Workplace conflict is a topic that I think we can all relate too. At one time or another we have had to deal with conflict in the workplace. Managing conflict in the workplace is challenging, but it is necessary to resolve it and move forward. By clearly defining the issue, preparing in advance for the conversation and articulating expectations, these conversations can lead to a satisfying outcome for everyone involved.
Dale Carnegie, once said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” With that in mind, it is no surprise that in the workplace, where there are diverse communities of employees with varied backgrounds, emotions sometimes run high.
Conflict in the workplace is normal and can even be constructive when employees respectfully discuss their opposing positions and opinions. However, when emotions come into play, and no resolution is in sight, it is necessary for management to intervene to help alleviate the situation.
Conflict among workers occurs for many reasons — poor work performance, personality clashes, personal issues or dissatisfaction with a job or supervisor — and must be approached by management with understanding and impartiality.
It is important to determine the exact nature of the issue and prepare in advance for the conversation, including the preferred outcome, before any dialogue takes place. This will help protect management from getting pulled into a “he said/she said” battle.
Below are some tips for managing a successful intervention:
Make an appointment. A set meeting time shows that this discussion is being taken seriously. Enough time should be planned so neither party feels rushed or under additional pressure.
Introduce the subject matter. All parties should understand at the outset why the conversation is taking place. The tone should always be non-accusatory, and the message should indicate that a resolution is possible.
Clarify expectations and next steps. Be sure that the other party understands the key issues, steps needed to resolve the issues, and management’s expectations. A follow-up meeting may be beneficial in certain instances.
Remain focused and articulate. Although discussing conflict can be uncomfortable, it is critical to remain focused on the relevant issues and to express oneself clearly.
Listen. As the saying goes, “There are two sides to every story.” Allow both parties to express their views and feelings, no matter how diametrically opposed they might be. Many conflicts take place because someone is not fully listening and understanding the other person’s position.
Keep emotions under control. It is important to remain calm and not respond with anger or tears. Unchecked emotions can escalate an already tense conversation.
Remember that if the conflict in the workplace can not resolved it will be costly to the people and the organization as a whole.