Sometimes conflicts are emotional in nature from the start for any number of reasons. People in the workplace sometimes just don’t click and the longer these emotional conflicts simmer the tougher they will be to work through and sort out. So, what steps can you take to avoid unnecessary workplace conflict and better handle it when it does occur?
Some practices that you can use to avoid some of the unpredictable and negative outcomes associated with conflict:
1. It’s imperative to create individual role clarity to ensure that everyone knows and understands their job responsibilities their authority and who they report to in the organizational structure.
This clarity can go a long way to help prevent conflicts over these very important issues and can also have a powerful impact on motivation in teamwork.
2. It’s also important help people stay focused on your organization’s overall mission and superordinate goals.
This allows people to coalesce around the big picture issues of taking care of your customers delivering great products and services and creating value for your enterprise.
3. Make it okay for people to have an express legitimate differences of opinion especially when discussing substantive issues in your workplace.
Encourage people to be open and candid when they’re talking about setting goals, developing plans, improving processes solving problems or any issue that is important to your organization success
Patrick Lencioni, author of the “Five dysfunctions of a team”, describes a phenomena that he calls artificial harmony. It’s a fake kind of agreement in which real problems are swept under the rug only to reemerge and cause bigger trouble at a later point in time.
Effective leaders and team members need to look for ways to generate honest discussions around substantive issues, but people need to know that it’s not okay to dominate discussions, openly disrespect or discount the input of others or bully other people when attempting to find an optimal solution to a real issue.
4. You also need to work hard to know, understand and address the problems that confront your workgroup because of organizational policies procedures and practices. In many organizations ineffective and outdated modes of operation can create real difficulty for people trying to get their work done.
These difficulties can easily translate into conflicts so it’s really important to address these issues to the extent that it should humanly possible. You’ll find it’s easier to resolve these issues if you solicit everyone’s input on how to deal with them.
5. Then train yourself and the people you work with to develop great problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. It’s very useful when members of a work group or team have an agreed-upon problem solving process and conflict resolution model that they can all use when needed.
Having these skills and tools in place can prevent conflict or help resolve it more quickly when it does occur, and keep in mind that having a plan to deal with conflict means nothing if you don’t take action.
6. Finally, it’s critically important to know yourself and how you handle and work through the process of resolving conflict.
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses in handling workplace conflict? Do you know and understand how your actions can impact others when resolving conflict? Do you know your preferred style of resolving conflict?
You need that kind of self-awareness if you’re going to successfully turn your workplace disagreements in the positive outcomes, but to help gauge your abilities I’d like to turn to one of the best-known assessments for measuring a person’s conflict resolution style.