Workplace conflict is a common phenomenon in every organization and it takes many forms from simple instance of rivalry between teams to more complex cases of lack of trust and cooperation between groups of employees and management. Whether we like it or not we will have drama queens and kings who tend to blow non-event out of proportion just to create grief for other people and make the relational atmosphere in a team tense.
As leaders in organizations the ability to effectively manage workplace conflict in a quick, objective and confidential manner says a lot about our leadership qualities. It should be noted however that not all workplace conflict is unhealthy. Some conflict are healthy conflict that helps to create innovation between teams example is conflict that arise from task that should be handled first or what methods to use in meeting a particular target.
To tackle workplace conflict so that it has a positive impact rather than negative impact on the workplace consider using any of the following tips
Ensure your Organization has a Disciplinary and Grievance Procedure
Disciplinary and grievance procedures remain the most frequently used method of handling conflicts. The disciplinary and grievance procedure are frameworks that provide detailed structures for dealing with conflicts which may arise as part of working relationships. This policy details the procedures the organization will take in handling grievances both on individual level and among groups of employees. It will also detail when intervention will given and when intervention will not be provided considering some issues tend to work themselves out over time.
Define Acceptable Behaviour
Be clear on what is considered acceptable behaviour within the organization. Ambiguity breeds assumption and if people are not clear on the workplace code of conduct as it relates to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour they tend to act as they like without a true understanding of the consequences of their action. So having things spelt out explicitly will help combat assumptions and reduce conflict.
Don’t be quick to conclude about any situation perceived as conflict within the organization. Take time to speak to individuals within the organization and gather more facts about any perceived conflict before you jump to conclusion or before coming up with a solutions to resolve the issue.
Some of the conflicts that happen in the workplace arise from people feeling they are not involved in decisions that concern them and their work within the organization. Ensure your organization has a clear communication channel that lets employee into the loop of what is happening regarding any issue that has to do with them and the organization. Let people be part of the process of decision making and let them feel a sense of belonging.
If workplace conflict is between two or more individuals consider using mediation which is the process of inviting an impartial third party to facilitate a meeting between the parties who are in conflict. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is less formal than grievance and disciplinary procedures. Mediation offers a safe and confidential space for both parties in a conflict to find solutions that are acceptable to each side. When using mediation bear in mind that the solutions arrived at by both parties to solve the conflict is usually morally binding but not legally binding.
Workplace conflict will always happen but you can deal effectively with it by showing empathy and listening to people. In all that you do ensure you don’t close your eyes or turn deaf ears to workplace conflict and ensure you follow good practice when dealing with work place conflict.