According to some research, 26 percent of employees say that conflict in the workplace is common in their business.
Are you dealing with employee conflict at your business? One important aspect of being a good leader is learning to deal effectively with conflict. The following five strategies for handling conflict will help you reduce strife and in the process boost teamwork and productivity.
1. Identify the Source of Conflict
Knowing the origin of the conflict will help you better understand how it became an issue in the first place.
You'll also want to hear both sides of the argument to get the complete picture. Discuss where the needs or problems are on both sides. You'll want as much information as possible, and don't be afraid to ask questions until you feel like you understand the problem.
How to dig down and understand the real cause of the friction: be curious. Be a reporter, they know by asking the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions, they’ll get the story. Until you have asked at least 3 or even 6 questions like “what makes you say that?” you won’t really understand what is going on.
TIP: Avoid asking the “Why” question as it shuts down the discussion as it is accusatory. Better: use What or How asking for their impression “How did that make you so mad?”
2. Focus on the Problems
It's easy to focus on who was wrong or right, but it’s better to focus on the problems rather than on the people. Put aside your judgment or ideas about the people who are arguing.
For example, if two employees have different personalities and can't get along, you need to focus on how that is causing issues. You can't force an employee to change their personality, so design your solution to address the problem between the two conflicting personalities instead.
3. Investigate the Problem
Take your time to investigate and hear everything before making up your mind. Keep in mind that both employees will present their arguments in a way that looks better for them.
You may want to ask coworkers about the situation and gauge how these people are feeling about it. Another way to investigate is by asking the employees in the conflict a question, repeating their statement back, and having them correct it if they think that you don't understand it.
4. Find a Solution
You may want to have both parties talk to each other to try and understand each other's side.
Sometimes the problem will resolve with some open and understanding dialogue. Other times, you may need to step in and facilitate the conversation. If they can't agree, you may need to create a step-by-step solution to work out the problem.
5. Monitor and Follow Up
Just because you give a solution to them doesn't always mean that the conflict will go away. A manager's responsibility is to check in with their employees and ensure that the problem is dealt with.
If it's going well, you can observe quietly or step in if you feel like you need to readjust priorities and expectations.
If your solution isn't working, you can go back to the drawing board and try again.
Discover More Strategies for Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace
These are only a few common strategies for dealing with conflict in the workplace, but there are many other ways you can manage it. Much depends on your managerial style because there are different ways to be a great manager.
If you're interested in learning more about how to be a great leader, make sure you check out this blog post!