In every office, you will come across some form of conflict, the way you handle that conflict is what can make the experience a positive or a negative. So here are 5 ways that you can use to manage conflict, learn from it, and potentially turn it into a positive situation.
Create a Safe Space
The best way to try and manage conflict is to create an office where employees feel safe sharing their opinions and have trust in management. The most basic way to achieve this is to ensure that you meet in private to discuss any conflicts and have a neutral party as a mediator during the discussion.
To take this a step further, if you are a manager, is to have an open-door policy where people can come and discuss their concerns or issues at any time. Make yourself approachable and available.
Listen to Both Sides
If you are a manager, try and take a neutral stance and hear out both parties on their issues. Be a mediator and only join the conversation when absolutely necessary. This role can be taken on by a project lead or team lead in smaller conflicts.
Try not to take sides in the argument. This can be very difficult, especially if you have your own opinion on who is right or what the right solution is. If you jump into a solution before hearing both sides you risk missing out on the real reason for the conflict and alienating one party leading to further issues in future.
Have Both Parties Work Together on a Solution
Ideally both parties should agree on the solution to the conflict, the best way to do this is to have them work together to get this solution. The mediator should try and drive towards a compromise that suits all parties, though this is not always possible. Be aware that some people view conflicts as a chance to win and will be reluctant to release this.
“Whilst working on a solution try and avoid patronising language, see if you can find the real root of the problem. Potentially it could be a lack of clarification on a topic or a simple misunderstanding,” says Jacob A. Ratcliff, a writer at Draftbeyond and Writinity.
Once you have come to a solution all parties are on board with you should make sure this is put in writing somewhere in order to prevent further issues in future and to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Look for Ways to Avoid Negative Conflict in the Future
The most effective way to manage conflict is to avoid it turning negative where possible. Have clear policies in place that detail how to deal with conflict when it arises. Make sure when you assign any work to someone you give clear instructions so there is no confusion about what the work requires.
“Maintain a positive team environment by keeping up with safe space practices and having regular team-building sessions to maintain comradery amongst colleagues. This should help team members to feel comfortable enough to manage some conflicts on their own,” says Eileen B. McCauley, business blogger at Research Papers UK.
See Conflict When It Arises as an Opportunity
When conflict does arise don’t see it as a failure on your part but as an opportunity to grow from the experience. Find out what areas are lacking, whether this is team building that alienates certain members or simply that you have not been clear enough with your instructions.
If you can show that you are trying to improve and make changes yourself it will encourage others to follow, especially if you are in a position of management. It is important to learn from mistakes and to avoid a culture of blame when things go wrong. This starts from the top.
Conflict doesn’t have to be something to fear or avoid, you can effectively deal with it by creating an environment of trust, listening to all sides of the argument and working together towards a positive solution.
Look for ways to mitigate any risks of conflict by providing a culture that values individuals as well as teamwork and when conflict arises try and see it as an opportunity to grow and learn.
If you keep a good team morale and a work environment where people feel comfortable to share their ideas and opinions you should be able to deal with any and all conflicts that arise.