Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. In a recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey, HR managers reported that they spend 24 to 60 percent of their time dealing with employee disputes. The ability to recognize conflict, understand its nature and bring it to swift and just resolution is key to your success as a business leader.
Consider these additional statistics:
- Nearly 60 percent of employees who responded to a recent University of North Carolina study said violence had occurred in their workplaces during the past three years – and personality conflicts with coworkers were listed as its leading cause.
- Fifty-three percent reported they had lost time at work worrying about past or possible future conflicts and 28 percent said they had lost work time because they were avoiding confrontational colleagues.
What Creates Conflict
Numerous factors can contribute to conflict at work. These include:
- Opposing positions.
- Competitive tensions.
- Ego or power struggles.
- Performance discrepancies.
- Compensation issues, and more.
While causes may vary, the root of most conflict boils down to two basic issues: poor communication and the inability to control one’s emotions.
- Communication breakdowns occur due to a lack of information, poor information or misinformation. Even if you have good information, communication fails if you don’t know what to do with it. Clear, concise and timely communication plans help ease the severity and number of conflicts that occur within an organization.
- The key to conflict avoidance is not allowing emotions to drive decisions. High emotion levels must be soothed before two parties can communicate – or even agree to disagree.
Effective Conflict Control
Spotting conflict early and resolving it effectively are key elements of your sustainable business model. Take strategic, proactive steps to make this happen.
- Define acceptable behavior. Clearly define what constitutes acceptable behavior in the workplace. Make sure parameters are clearly communicated and understood. Have clearly defined job descriptions so individuals know what’s expected of them.
- Face conflict head on. In fact, take it one step further and seek out sources of potential conflict. Then you can intervene in a fair and decisive manner, at an early stage. Or, if conflict does flair up, you’ll be more likely to minimize its severity.
- Understand the “what’s in it for me” factor. To avoid conflict, help those around you to achieve their objectives. You’ll find that fewer obstacles stand in your way with regard to finding resolutions.
- Pick your battles. How important is the dispute, really? If it’s a one-time incident or transgression, you may be able to let it pass. On the other hand, if there’s enough at stake, do whatever it takes to open communication lines and close underlying positional or philosophical gaps.
- Be an active listener. Really listen and try to understand what the other person is saying or, if you’re the liaison, hear the viewpoints of both parties. Let them know that you understand by reframing their statement or position, so they know you have heard them.
- View conflict as an opportunity. Hidden within virtually every conflict is the potential for growth, development and learning. Leverage conflict for team building and leadership growth. When addressed properly, divergent positions can stimulate innovation in ways that like minds cannot conceive.
For additional tips on effective communication, conflict resolution and workforce development, read our related posts or contact the expert team at PrideStaff Fresno today.