When conflict in the workplace is handled ineffectively it can pose a significant threat to an organization. A comprehensive study conducted by CPP in its Human Capital Report found that 85% of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree. U.S. employees spend 2.1 hours per week dealing with conflict, defined as “any workplace disagreement that disrupts the flow of work.” In 2008, this was more than $350 billion in paid hours.
To prevent these unnecessary costs and preserve employee morale and performance, teams must learn to embrace workplace conflict. When approached with a positive mindset, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. We have compiled 4 key strategies to help you welcome healthy conflict in the workplace.
JOIN STAFF MEETINGS
Attending all staff meetings and actively participating is a major step towards improving communication and conflict resolution. When you have an awareness of what is happening both inside and outside of the organization you can be sure to have accurate and comprehensive information. Staff meetings provide an opportunity to make sure everyone is on the same page and avoid lapses in communication. This ensures that at least some of the conflict on the job is approached from a level standpoint, and discussions between team members are more objective.
WELCOME ALL OPINIONS, ESPECIALLY UNPOPULAR ONES
Some workplace environments may reward employees for being people-pleasers, but this actually does the more harm than good. A survey issued by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 72 percent of employees rank “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as a top factor in job satisfaction. One important component of respect is being able to listen with the intent to understand. Encourage colleagues at all levels within an organization to share different opinions without fear of judgement or personal attack. This opens the door for healthy communication and is one of the first steps to resolving conflict successfully. When employees know that their feedback is valued, they are more likely to respect others’ ideas, healthy criticism, and compromise.
DON’T TAKE DISAGREEMENTS PERSONALLY
Depending on how the conflict arises, this can be difficult to do. However, it is necessary if workplace conflict is to have a positive outcome. Remaining calm and staying focused on the issue at hand is a good strategy. It’s natural to have strong emotions when you encounter conflict but be mindful that a disagreement with a colleague does not equate to a personal attack. If you can keep your emotions in check and approach the conflict with a level head, you significantly increase the chances of a good outcome.
ADDRESS CONFLICTS QUICKLY AND DIRECTLY
The biggest part of embracing conflict is not ignoring it. When it arises, it should be addressed quickly and directly. Delaying or responding in a passive-aggressive manner can cause frustrations to boil over. The increasing tensions can escalate the conflict and cause significantly more damage. In a worst-case scenario escalated conflict can diminish employee performance and end up negatively affecting customers. This is problematic for any business but can become devastating when lives are at stake.
In a workplace where numerous personalities exist, conflict is inevitable. The best way to handle it is to approach it from a positive perspective. Keeping the lines of communication open for healthy debate among everyone can lead to innovative ideas and growth for both the organization and its employees. To find out how CTI can help you develop your issue-clearing strategies, contact us online or call at (813) 333-1401.