Everyone in the workplace has encountered conflict.
Conflict in the workplace is very common.
This is something that the majority of us would wish not to deem, yet actually such issues can have critical ramifications.
You are at work. You have been assigned a new project, you are very excited and can’t wait to get started. But you are not happy with the team members. At this point, conflict begins and your enthusiasm quickly diminishes.
Does that sound familiar? Maybe not the same situation for all.
No one is going to enjoy it when the work environment is disrupted by conflict. It can make the workplace rough and obnoxious, productivity rates will go down along with motivation and mutual respect. Disagreement at work is always detrimental and preventative measures should be taken to stop it from happening, but if/when it does happen action should be almost immediate in order to stop it before it can fester and grow into a much superior issue which can cause a multitude of troubles both at the time and in the future.
If you notice workplace conflict, what can you do? Can you help folks to come out of conflict? Or will you make exacerbate the situation more? It is very difficult to know what right things can be done to seek a solution
What can be done if there is a conflict at Work
If you are an employee and you observe that some of your colleagues are involved in the conflict, then you should report the conflict to your supervisor/manager as soon as possible. While this may feel uncomfortable, it is the best course of action. Ignoring a conflict can lead to more serious issues.
Remember that you are not going to management as a way to curry favor, or in an attempt to get your colleagues into danger, what you are doing is trying to safeguard the work environment. The workplace is not a schoolyard; reporting should not be seen as a negative behavior. Nothing will recover if those who can do something about it are unaware of the problem.
Once you have reported the matter you should not engage in it further, the fewer people who become involved the better. You should only do more if your manager/supervisor does nothing and the matter continues, then you report it again, consider doing so in writing.
If you are involved in a conflict, then you should report it to your manager/supervisor. Making them aware of the condition is the only way this can be controlled and managed in such a way so that everyone comes out of it in the best possible light. Also reporting it will show those above you in the company that you respect your working environment and your colleagues, it shows a degree of responsibility and maturity that will earn you respect.
If you are a manager/team leader, you need to intervene as soon as you become aware that there is an issue. You should not choose to wait to see if the issue resolves itself. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, it will only compile it. You need to put a stop to it immediately, stop the employees engaging with each other and calm the situation down then you can begin looking for a way to resolve the problem.
How to manage workplace conflict
Step One: Study the case
As a manager, you will need to look into the situation more deeply and fully understand what has happened and why it happened.
Before having an open discussion, ask yourself
- Did they really make a mistake?
- Was there behavior against the ethical standards of the business?
Step Two: Discuss the issue with both parties and be a good listener
Discuss the issue with the workers who are having the conflict. Speak to them in isolation in the first instance as if you try to have this discussion with both of them present then it could simply deteriorate into another dispute.
Please have a word with other workers and generate an outline of what has been going on. No one will ever be entirely objective in this kind of circumstances; there will be biases, and different points of view, different understandings of events so the best way to create a clear picture as possible is by listening to as many people as possible and noting the common elements in their accounts.
Once you get a picture of what has happened or is happening, you are now in a better position to do something productive that will resolve the issue.
If at all plausible then bringing the two conflicting parties jointly for an informal meeting can help. You will be in a much stronger position to keep the topics focused and prevent the circumstances from devolving into a full-blown dispute. However, this can still be very uncertain and can easily devolve the situation.
If you are worried it will only cause more strife, then you best keep them apart for the moment. But make them aware that if they cannot come together then it may impinge on their future with the company.
A calm and mediated environment in which to discuss the matter can easily lead to a resolution.
Step Three: Choose a Solution
Managers should be quick decision-makers. Talk about the positives and negatives of the issues. Don’t be partial to any side. Try to control employee emotions. Discuss with the person different options to control the conflicts
So, how do you handle conflicts that can’t be dealt with in just one meeting?
If matters persist to escalate even after you have discussed the situation and tried to reach a mediated solution, then you should check the company handbook.
If an informal discussion and meeting isn’t an option at this point or the previous meeting has led to an impasse, then it is time to consider a more formal approach. As the dispute will have developed into something that needs a proper formal resolution.
Both employees should be aware of their avenues within the company for resolution, such as raising a formal grievance. They should also be made aware of the consequences of the conflict continues, the possible disciplinary action which could result in termination.
You may refer to your company handbook and use your internal procedures. You should read the section regarding how the company must handle grievances and if the employees are clearly at fault, the section on how to handle disciplinary proceedings.
Don’t get upset when you face conflicts. Express your ability to deal with people without making the situation worse. Handle people wisely and watch your career grow and blossom – Remember your boss is watching you!