Conflict is everywhere. There will always be someone you don’t enjoy, and unfortunately, sometimes those people are your coworkers and managers. So how are you supposed to handle these conflicts when they arise? Instead of turning the conference room into a boxing arena, try these five tips to reduce conflict in the workplace.
Encourage Strong Communication
When teams and employees have strong communication skills, workplace conflict becomes more manageable. One way to encourage communication is to have employees work together on different projects. This situation helps employees think through how to handle issues and still receive results.
If your team needs help with these skills, Bigger Brains has a host of short courses that deliver big results. These include Persuasion: The Art of Communication, Brain Bites – Let Them Know You’re Listening, Brain Bites – Empathy: The Key to Active Listening, and Increase Your Listening Power (Effective Communication).
Provide Conflict Resolution Training
Conflict resolution training provides employees beneficial information for life inside and outside the organization. When employees are trained on conflict resolution, it helps them spot the warning signs of conflict in real life. This skill allows employees to recognize potential conflict and recall the next steps to prevent the situation from escalating.
Bigger Brains provides training to create positive work environments where everyone feels safe and supported. One specific course covering this topic is, Awkward at the Office (Workplace Harassment). Not only does this course cover how the power of words can impact those around you, but there is an employee version, as well as a supervisor version. In addition to defining appropriate workplace behavior, these courses cover relevant laws for specific states.
Allow Room for Feedback
One of the best ways to know what is going on in an employee’s head is to ask them. This provides opportunities for employees to give feedback about company culture, task requirements, and anything else they may have thoughts/ideas about.
One way to promote employee feedback is to allow employees to schedule a one-on-one. One-on-one’s are when an employee can meet with a member of HR for an allotted amount of time. During this time, employees can express concerns or thoughts about decisions being made in the company. Often, being able to share their emotions on a topic can decrease feelings of frustration leading to reduced conflict in the workplace.
It is important to note that one-on-one meetings provide the best results when the employee can meet with a neutral leader in the workplace. Having a one-on-one meeting with their direct supervisor would not produce good results because the employee may be hesitant to say they disagree with decisions made by their supervisor. Additionally, it is essential to handle the discussions of a one-on-one meeting neutrally. Employees are people, and people are allowed to disagree with things. Instead of reacting negatively during these meetings, responding neutrally can help employees sort through their issues rather than shutting them down.
Avoid Preferential Treatment
One of the easiest ways to start workplace conflict is treating employees differently or holding them to different standards. Employees are incredibly perceptive, especially now, when they realize their worth and look for positions that reflect it. Because of this, when two employees are equal in position, competency, and output, and only one gets praised for their work, employees realize it and do not appreciate it. In some cases, this may lead to conflict in the workplace between the two employees, but most of the time, it leads to conflict towards the leadership enforcing the unfair treatment.
This can be seen in other examples in the workplace. Consider there are two employees of the same position. Both want to display religious items on their desks openly. One employee is of the Christian faith, the other of the Buddist faith. In this example, you would have to either allow both employees to display their religious items or prohibit both of them. Because of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, allowing one employee to display these items and not the other would be a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Set a Formal Complaint Process
Despite providing conflict resolution training or encouraging communication, sometimes conflict in the workplace is inevitable. In this case, having a formal complaint process in place is the final step in handling workplace conflict. It is essential to keep this process unbiased and neutral so HR can take appropriate action.