Don’t Let Conflict Rule Your Workplace: Helpful Tips on Workplace Conflict and Mediation
Conflict is an inescapable part of life. Whether you actively choose to avoid it or not, it will creep up on you. Sooner or later, there will be conflict in your workplace and management may have to intervene.
Being part of the management team at a company is never an easy job. Whether you deal with employees on a daily basis or not, being a manager or supervisor will inevitably mean that you will have a role in resolving interpersonal conflicts between employees at some point in your career. Statistics Canada has reported that 65% of individuals have experienced some form of conflict in the workplace, with 44% being an interpersonal conflict with another employee. Conflict is never desired, yet should always be expected. In order to achieve the goals you want for your company, it is necessary to be equipped with the right skills to effectively manage conflict in the workplace.
Being able to mediate employee conflict is highly beneficial—not only for the involved parties, but also for everyone else affected by the discrepancies. As a manager, it comes with the territory of the job to manage employee disputes. Conflict management means you must be willing to take on the role of mediator between employees for the betterment of employee relations, as well as the productivity of your entire company.
Whenever stress arises, workplace productivity can come to a halt and conflict may result if not intervened with properly. Research by Statistics Canada has demonstrated that 60-80% of discrepancies in organizations have been due to interpersonal conflict between employees.
There are consequences of workplace conflict that will ultimately affect the way your business runs. Some of the issues that may arise are:
- Wasted time during the intervention and mediation of the conflict
- Workplace productivity may decline as conflict may have an impact on team dynamics and morale
- The quality of the work done by employees may suffer
- Any individuals involved may avoid the workplace, making false claims of illness rather than confronting a conflict
- Malicious actions and open hostility may arise between employees without proactive conflict management
Conflict management may seem like a headache, but there are easy, professional actions that you can take as a part of the management team to resolve conflicts and prevent future altercations from occurring. To handle oneself with grace in tough situations is a skill that is acquired with time, but it begins with approaching situations with empathy and understanding.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests that the basis of conflict management is to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” You will have to learn to meditate with the parties involved to get the best possible resolution without further disturbing the peace of the workplace.
Meet Up & Mediate
To start the mediation process smoothly, you have to be aware of the skills needed to resolve interpersonal conflict. It takes significant time and resources to be able to mediate disputes correctly. To start, you must designate an official time and place for the conflict resolution to occur. Do not have a separate meeting with the parties involved—instead, have a conjoined meeting addressing the issue at hand with the following steps:
- Ask each individual to describe the situation from their perspective, and strive to seek understanding in the situation
- As the manager, take responsibility for conflict management and help employees resolve a dispute without choosing sides
- Make sure employees leave the meeting with a committed attitude to make any necessary changes in their behaviour
Understanding your team’s dynamics and employee needs is one way of avoiding conflict, but it’s important to be prepared for any disputes that will arise. Instead of letting tension impact workplace dynamics, spend some time equipping yourself with the right tools to resolve or even prevent conflict from occurring.
Additional tools for conflict management:
- Stay calm and professional during a discussion
- Seek to understand before you try and make yourself understood
- Don’t speak defensively or in opposition of other parties involved in the conflict
- Highlight the commonalities between parties
- Intervene by confronting the problem, not the individual people
- Don’t play the blame-game or label anyone as a victim
- Keep the future in mind, not the past
- Pick your battles—decide what is worth having a conflict over, and the appropriate approach for the situation
- Ask insightful questions to understand the situation and be careful not to provoke anyone
- Be creative in conflict resolution and think outside the box for solutions
- Be confident in yourself and the betterment of the workplace
- Celebrate agreement and negotiation
Get Help With Imagine Better Solutions
At Imagine Better Solutions, we can help you approach conflict management with the confidence to ensure maximum workplace productivity and a hostile-free environment. Our HR management consultation can provide professional conflict resolution strategies to aid you in molding the type of business you desire. We provide HR advisory services that serve as coaching for your company, and also assist with employee grievances.
Follow our AIR Model (Attract, Improve, and Retain) to foster a positive workplace environment. Advocating for mediation and intervention is our priority, ensuring optimal workplace productivity. Job satisfaction is key to any successful business. Take the initiative and let us help!