Managing conflict

150We have covered this topic in quite a lot of detail already, and have reviewed topics such as minimising conflict, tackling conflict, and tools and techniques for dealing with conflict in the workplace.

Minimising conflict in the workplace
Tools and techniques for handling conflict in the workplace
Tackling conflict in the workplace

It is almost inevitable that when you get a number of people working closely together, competing professionally, and striving to achieve their targets and get noticed, that conflict will arise. Some managers manage by conflict, deliberately pitting their teams against each other with conflicting targets.

An example would be in retailing where the buyer is targeted with optimising profitability, while stock controllers are targeted with moving stock through the business, regardless of profit achieved. The management rely on the judgement of their teams to achieve the best result for the business, but it is not always the case.

So is it any wonder that tensions arise, petty jealousies get out of proportion and incidents need to be managed.

Situations may arise not only between employees and colleagues but may also involve clients or contacts in supplier companies.

A strong manager and leader must be alive to what is happening around them and intervene to resolve difficult situations in the workplace.

It falls to leaders and managers to defuse the situation and get everyone back on track, focusing their energies on the business and its performance instead of squabbling.

Again the skills needed to do this are effective listening, communication, empathy, interpersonal skills, using emotional intelligence, all skills you can practise and hone

Conflict at work – tools and techniques to handle it

Tools and techniques for handling conflict in the workplace

First, analyse the causes of the problem. There may be several factors involved. Consider the personalities and motivations at play Remember that people are all different, and have their individual motivations and fears. Visualise a strategy for resolution of the conflict, or several strategies if you can. Once you have identified the problem, solutions should begin to present themselves. Then approach the relevant personalities privately and discreetly, and discuss the issues with them, revising and reformulating your approaches as the discussions evolve.

Conflict Management Strategies

Consider which of these five basic approaches are best for you to use in each situation to resolve conflict.

  • Withdrawal- essentially not engaging with the problem, ignoring it.
  • Smoothing over –play the problem down
  • Forcing a solution -use your position and authority to deal with the issue
  • Compromise- you negotiate a workable compromise with all parties
  • Collaboration- you negotiate an effective group solution and a win/win outcome for everyone and the business

Revist the original module to choose the best for the particular circumstance.

Conflict can be resolved positively

Try not to see conflict as threatening, and resolve it in constructive ways. This will improve performance and strengthen trust and respect for you among your team

To resolve conflict positively you should;-

  • Focus on the current problem, don’t let people hold grudges and resentments.
  • Decide what is worth arguing about, you won’t have time to sort everything out –focus on the main point first.
  • Forgive and forget and move on.
  • If a conflict can’t be resolved, agree to disagree.