Conflicts are inevitable when several people work together. The term conflict refers to the differences in opinion or disagreements between two or more people. Besides resolving a conflict, we must ensure that the parties involved do not end up experiencing emotional stress during the process. What happens when you fail to attend to these conflicts? They lead to bad decision-making and issues like harassment and bullying. Constant conflicts in the workplace cause team breakdowns, morale drops, and project halts. Organizations experience wasted talents, high absenteeism, and increased staff turnover.
The best part is that you can resolve conflict. Conflicts help in highlighting the issues, strengthen relationships, and spark innovation, as long as you aren’t ignoring them. In this blog post, we will understand the concept of conflict management and resolution, explore the reasons that cause conflicts in the workplace, and discuss practical strategies that mitigate conflicts within an organization.
Conflict Management: Understanding the Concept
Conflicts in organizations are common. However, managers and other organizational leaders must understand conflicts and know how to resolve them. Everyone thrives to show their value in an organization, which often leads to disputes with other members of the team.
Conflict management refers to the practice of identifying and managing conflicts sensibly, reasonably, and efficiently. The process deals with incompatibilities or disagreements arising from diverging opinions, objectives, and demands. It helps avoid poor communication between colleagues, reduce workplace stress, improve productivity, and boost the morale of the employees.
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Reasons for Conflict at Work
A workplace conflict is a disagreement between two or more people working together on a common goal, which is the outcome of differences in opinions, goals, and motivation. Some of the causes of workplace conflict include the following:
Every leader is unique and follows a particular leadership style. While some are highly skilled and follow the rules strictly, others are bold, welcoming, and inviting. Some leaders take good care of their employees, and others focus on the organization. When there is a disagreement about the direction of the goals, objectives, and execution of tasks, it leads to conflict among your employees.
Your employees have different working styles. Some people can work quickly without guidance, while others execute work with proper instructions. Incomplete tasks are another reason for the rise of conflict. While some of your employees like creative tasks, others are organized and follow processes, and the difference is often a source of conflict. Often, employees experience overloading of tasks, which creates conflict with their managers.
Often, an organization has limited resources like machines, tools, and equipment. When team members cannot avail themselves of the resources equally, a conflict generally arises. When employees in your organization cannot use the systems or laptops required during work, a conflict is likely to arise. When you have no policy on the availability and usage of resources and entitlements, the intensity of these conflicts worsens.
It is another common cause of conflict in the workplace. When your employees are under stress, they experience physical symptoms including increased heart rate, sweating, and difficulty in thinking clearly. It further generates negative emotions, including anger, anxiety, and fear, causing conflict among team members. When left unchecked, stress has a severe impact on their physical and psychological health. Employees often complain about feeling anxious, stressed, and having difficulty concentrating, which hinders their performance.
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Conflict Resolution: What Is It?
Conflict resolution refers to the process where two or more parties find a cordial solution to a problem. It is crucial for the workplace and client relationships. The process brings people together to figure out a solution to a problem. Your organization’s goal is to create an inclusive environment of people who are capable of managing and limiting conflicts. Since a conflict-free workplace isn’t possible, ensure that everyone can handle the conflicts professionally.
Why should you practice conflict resolution? With conflict resolution, you can experience the issues to resolve, leading to better efficiency in the workplace. A poorly handled conflict can lose your organization money and time. Therefore, it is vital to focus on improving conflict resolution skills, as it improves employee relationships, employee performance, and retention rates. Do your managers resolve conflicts with clients? It’s an excellent that helps your organization improve client retention and maintain a strong identity and trustworthiness.
Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies
Do your employees often find themselves in a conflict situation? If yes, then you can implement these conflict resolution strategies that help in resolving the disagreements quickly and effectively. These include:
Raise the issue early
When you keep quiet about the conflict, it increases the grudge among them. Speaking with other people often fuels rumors and misunderstandings. Therefore, whether you are battling over the thermostat or feel being micromanaged, it is essential to speak with the opposite party. If you are afraid to make the approach or feel that it will worsen the problem, it is better to speak with your manager or with the Human Resources department. Whomever you speak with, ensure to be assertive and speak openly. It will encourage your coworkers to follow you, and you can reach the root cause of the problem before it escalates.
Choose a private place for discussion
Several managers and other organizational leaders wonder and ask, “What’s the best approach to solve problems peacefully?” Choose a private place suitable for discussing the issue. Why? Here, you can take all the necessary steps for an honest discussion on the highlighted issues. Whatever place you choose, it must not be the office of either party or a location between them. Besides, you must ensure that each party has enough time to air out their views about the issue.
Control your emotions
When is it perfect to discuss the conflict? It’s the most common question for most managers and other organizational leaders. Choose a time when you are emotionally stable. If you are angry when resolving a conflict, you might say something you will regret and inflame the situation. It’s best to avoid playing the blame game.
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When you talk to someone about a conflict, you would like to start by narrating your case instead of hearing out the other’s side. However, when two people do this, the conversation goes in circles. What can you do then? Invite the other party to narrate their situation, ask them how they would like to resolve the issue and be empathetic. During a negotiation, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It helps you build mutual respect and understanding and to reach a solution that satisfies both parties.
After both parties meet in a secure place, give them time to express their thoughts and concerns. Ensure to embrace a positive and assertive approach while in a meeting. Alternatively, you can set proper ground rules. Taking this approach will encourage both these parties to articulate their thoughts openly and honestly, comprehend the causes of the conflict, and identify solutions.
Some of the things that a person might tell becomes difficult to hear. However, criticism or constructive feedback is regarding job behaviors and not as a person. Therefore, with an open mind, use criticism. It will help you identify the areas you require improvement, boost your performance, and promote growth.
Conflict is part of our everyday lives. You might disagree with your family, friends, and coworkers. However, with effective conflict resolution strategies, you ensure the issue is manageable. Managing and resolving conflict in your workplace helps in meeting organizational goals. Therefore, next time your employees or you experience any workplace conflict, adopt these strategies for effective conflict resolution.