Conflict is an inevitable part of life – and work. Blame it on personalities, differing lifestyles, stress or myriad other factors, but sometimes it occurs between team members. As a leader, you would probably rather focus your time and energy on issues like productivity and meeting customer deadlines. But if not handled properly, conflict alienates people and gets in the way of these top business priorities.
Handle Conflict Professionally
Conflict is friction that results from actual, or more often than not, perceived differences. In many cases, people’s perception is their reality – and if your team’s perception of a situation is negative, their ability to find a common solution will be hampered.
Conflict stems from personal values clashing. People feel that what is most important to them has been dishonored. It’s your job to educate your team on these points, and then help develop their soft skills and shift their perspective.
- Nip conflict in the bud. If left to fester, conflict can infect your entire workplace and ultimately hurt productivity, stifle creativity, and damage your reputation. Get to the root of the problem so you can stop the landslide before it starts.
- Practice active listening. Don’t assume you know the details of a situation based on hearsay, gossip or whispers around the office. Get the facts and then create an environment where they can be constructively discussed.
- Identify the real issue. In order to avoid future flare-ups, you need to get to the source of the strife. This must be a rational approach, not one that becomes clouded by emotion. Ask each person to share their view of the situation. Then, ask them to consider the other person’s view. This helps them develop empathy. Encourage everyone to acknowledge and validate each other’s views and not take it personally if they don’t align with their own. Sometimes, people simply need to agree to disagree – and then they can move forward.
- Help find common ground. If you’ve hired the right people, each member of your team has a sincere shared passion for your company’s mission and values. Show them how to make the best of conflict by turning disagreement into a brainstorming session, where each member is invited to offer input. Ask forwarding questions; for example, “What can you agree on in this situation?” This reminds everyone that they’re in this together.
- Create a healthy culture, where each person’s values are known. Conflict may cause people to feel insecure about their place in and value to an organization. Make sure everyone knows that each team member brings something unique to the table. Let them know their work is appreciated. Offer them the opportunity to air their concerns directly with you, and ask they do so in a professional, productive manner. Have them approach each other with the same respect.
- Lead by example. A culture of respectful communication must start at the top. Always speak to your employees in an honest and respectful manner. Foster an environment that values integrity. When you are consistently honest and open, team members are more likely to behave the same way.
For employment and workforce development solutions, including talent management and conflict resolution, turn to the experienced team at Employment Professionals Canada. We can help make an immediate impact on your business and bottom-line results. Contact us today to learn more about our recruiting services in Ontario and the Greater Niagara Region.