Do you enjoy losing sleep or spending money unnecessarily? Or watching the reputation of your workplace decline or your great employees resign?

No? Not many people do. Some workplaces experience these problems all too often as a result of unmanaged workplace conflict.workplace conflict

Can you confidently say that you manage workplace conflict well? If you answered with a “No”, here are some tips to help you manage it better.

5 steps to success

My five-step process, when implemented, will help you ensure the real cause of the conflict is uncovered and your employees become empowered through the experience:

  1. Discover the root cause of the conflict
  2. Separate the systemic/organisational issues from the people issues
  3. Identify appropriate strategies to address the conflict both in the short-term and the long-term
  4. Implement strategies
  5. Review progress.

Too often, it’s assumed that people are the problem and that is not always the case. In step 1 – Discover the root cause of the conflict, allow about an hour to meet with each person involved in the conflict, one-on-one and hear, from their perspective, what has been going on. After these sessions, you will be able to identify elements causing the conflict.

Then, when you have a good understanding of the root cause/s of the conflict, follow step 2 and Separate the elements/causes into two groups

a) those which have occurred because your employees are not skilled at managing themselves and others when in conflict, and

b) those which have occurred by nature of how your workplace runs or is structured.

In step 3 Identify strategies, match appropriate strategies to address each root cause. It’s best to have a mix of short-term and long-term strategies. Mediation is an example of a short-term people strategy while developing the conflict management skills of your employees is a long-term people strategy. Updating the organisational structure is an example of a short-term organisational strategy and changing a team culture is a long-term organisational strategy.

Taking a multi-pronged approach with the variety of short-term and long-term strategies moves you to step 4 of Implementation. A mediation can take up to four hours while changing the workplace culture can start to take effect within three months. Be prepared for the time commitment to see this conflict, and more importantly its root causes, addressed.

Reviewing progress, step 5, is an ongoing process until you believe every root cause identified in step 1, has been adopted as business-as-usual or a new habit/culture has formed.

Benefits to your employees

Managing workplace conflict well takes time. As you move through each step, you will notice your employees becoming confident and empowered as they become better skilled at managing themselves and others when in conflict. They will be better prepared to manage the next conflict before it escalates.

Benefits to you

You will see productivity and morale improve. And you will be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep knowing your employees’ conflict management skills have been developed, realising your workplace’s reputation has become enhanced by managing conflict well and becoming an employer of choice. And, with the ultimate result of having high-performing potential employees approaching you for a job who wouldn’t want to manage workplace conflict well

Andrea (166 Posts)

Andrea Doyle MHRM, Accredited Mediator – NMAS
Workplace Mediator, Conflict Manager
Author, Presenter

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