There are many different reasons why conflicts in the workplace may arise. However, this does not mean conflict has to have any negative effect on the company or the employees. As a leader it is vital to develop effective conflict resolutions skills and to have a strong desire to resolve any problems. Based on an article by Forbes, here are five keys to dealing with workplace conflict:
- Define acceptable behavior. Ensure that you have an understood and clear definition as what constitutes acceptable behavior. This helps deal with conflict by eliminating assumptions that can often be incorrect. It is also important to have clearly defined job descriptions so people know exactly what is expected of them. Clearly and publicly make it known what will and will not be tolerated before a problem arises.
- Deal with conflict head-on. The secret to conflict resolution is prevention whenever possible. However, when conflicts do occur it is vital to deal with it quickly and as soon as possible. This will minimize the severity of the conflict and lessen the chances of it occurring again. Time spent identifying and understanding natural tensions will help to avoid unnecessary conflict.
- Understanding motivations. Understanding other professionals’ motivations is critical before weighing in on any particular conflict. It is best to approach conflict from the perspective of taking the action that will help others best achieve their goals. Helping others reach their objectives is a great tool in avoiding conflict all together.
- Priorities and importance. It is key to pick your battles and avoid conflict for the sake of conflict. On the other hand, if an issue is important enough to create conflict then it is surely important enough to resolve. If the issue is significant enough, people will do what is necessary to open lines of communication and close positional gaps.
- View conflict as opportunity. With every conflict there is the potential for tremendous teaching and learning opportunities. As a leader, it is important to utilize the opportunity to leverage conflict for team building and leadership development. Negative situations addressed properly can stimulate innovation and learning. Smart leaders always look for the upside in all differing opinions.