In any environment where a variety of different kinds of people have to come together and work towards a shared goal, there will usually be disagreements and differences in opinions. While a healthy amount of respectful disagreement can be valuable to drive your business forward, if this type of interaction devolves into full on conflict, it can cause negative feelings and emotional harm to the people in your office. This also results in poor productivity. Fortunately, if you put some effort and thought into the issue of how to deal with conflict in the workplace, it is possible to resolve these situations and prevent them from happening again in the future.
Understanding Why Conflict Happens in the Workplace
There are all sorts of reasons that people can disagree or not get along in a professional setting. Some of the more common causes for workplace conflicts include:
- Miscommunications or misinterpretations between employees. This situation often comes about as a result of correspondence that was interpreted one way but meant to be read a completely different way. Miscommunications can also come about as a result of the tone that someone uses while they are talking to a colleague.
- A feeling of unfair treatment for one specific employee. If there is someone at your office who another employee believes gets special treatment from managers, it can lead to resentment and conflict between employees.
- Different backgrounds that are not understood by everyone at your office: it is a sad fact of human nature that people often reject what they do not understand. This is commonly manifested in the workplace when you see people from different backgrounds having trouble working together.
There are plenty of other reasons that workplace conflict may happen. Before you can get started on setting the policies that will help you prevent conflict in your office, you must understand the nature of the conflicts at your office.
Identifying Conflict in your Workplace
A big part of how to deal with conflict in the workplace involves the ability to identify the specific conflicts that your office is dealing with and then rectifying them. For example, if you have noticed that there are two people in a specific department who don’t get along, you might want to keep an eye on them or have your department manager report back on some of the reasons they are not getting along.
If you believe that the conflict in your workplace might be tough to uncover, another option is to create an anonymous survey that allows you to get a better understanding of conflict in your workplace. This type of survey will clue you into things that may be happening in your office, even if you had never suspected that conflict was going on.
Addressing Workplace Conflict
When considering how to deal with conflict in the workplace, there are two main ways that you can address this issue. The first way involves dealing with conflicts that are already going on. This can be a tricky process, especially if you do not have firsthand exposure to the kind of conflicts that have been happening at your workplace.
To solve specific workplace conflicts, you may need to sit down with the two or more people who are having issues in the workplace and talk to them about their problems. Often, workplace conflicts can be resolved through a simple mediation process that allows the two sides to talk through their differences. If the conflict has had an impact on their work, make sure to let them know that this behaviour is unacceptable and that if it continues they will be held accountable.
The other major kind of consideration when thinking about how to deal with conflict in the workplace is preventing future incidents from occurring. You must be sure that you set a strong policy against workplace conflict: if necessary, let your people know that they will be subject to discipline if it is found that they started conflict with another employee. Also make sure that your human resources managers and team members are on board with the policy and understand how to enforce it, which will help you make sure that your employees stick to your anti-conflict policy.
Conflict in the workplace is a serious challenge that can greatly hinder an office’s productivity. If you are observant and swift in dealing with conflict, you can help make sure that your team works in harmony without disagreements of any nature that disrupt the dynamic of your business.