Five Ways to Handle Workplace Conflict

Teams are usually made up of very different people, with different personalities, preferences, and ways of doing things. Put all of these people together in one place, day in, day out, and conflict is inevitable.

Your job as a business owner is to know how to deal with conflict when it arises, and to deal with it swiftly and decisively, or you risk a seemingly trivial issue becoming a much bigger problem.

Why conflict resolution is one of the most important skills you’ll learn as a business owner

If conflicts go unresolved, this can really affect your team’s morale and willingness to work together, which translates into lower productivity. Another problem with workplace conflict is that people generally don’t want to stay in an unhappy, contentious workplace for too long, and your best employees might decide they’ve had enough and go to work elsewhere.

What causes conflict?

There are endless potential causes of conflict in the workplace including:

People not agreeing on something

Poor communication

Competitiveness between team members

Power struggles

Personality clashes

And let’s not forget, you and your team members are only human and might just be having a bad day!

Five ways to deal with workplace conflict

Pre-empt it

Some, but not all conflicts can be avoided if you clearly define what’s expected of your team, from their job descriptions to policies that outline expected behaviours. That way, if a conflict arises over something, you already have a potential resolution/answer to the problem there in black and white.

Get to the bottom of it

To deal with conflict properly, you have to understand the root cause. Simply firefighting and not dealing with the real issue won’t help. For example, is that argumentative, underperforming employee not feeling heard? Before you dive in headfirst and address the perceived problems, make sure you take the time to address the real issues.

Understand people’s perspectives

Whether you’re in conflict with someone, or the conflict is between team members, understanding the other person’s perspective is crucial. When you understand this and the ideal outcome they are looking for, there’s more chance of coming up with a solution that will suit everyone.

Seek a resolution that all parties are happy with

Conflict resolution doesn’t need to go as far as having a formal meeting. It might be that you can have an informal chat with the person or people involved and agree on a resolution. But whatever happens, get to the bottom of the reason for the conflict, listen to everyone’s point of view, and ask what they would like to see happen. From there, you can work on finding an amicable solution that everyone is satisfied with, even if part of it is that you agree to disagree.

Don’t see conflict as an enemy to be eliminated

While you don’t want to run a business where everyone is up in arms all of the time, changing your perspective on conflict can help. Can it be seen as an opportunity to learn or change things for the better? Is the fact that your team members have different opinions or positions really a bad thing, or does it open you up to possibilities you’ve never thought of?

Are your managers struggling with dealing with conflict, then I can help.  Book a call for a chat.

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