How to Cope with Conflict in the Workplace

in Business Management
Business Conflict

Workplace conflict is a major source of stress and it is important for employers to take an active stance and help employees develop respect for each other.

Especially in today‘s difficult economic times, the workplace can often be an extremely stressful environment with many people fearing being made redundant.

This extra stress placed on both employees and employers to keep performing may lead to very high levels of conflict within the work environment.

There are a few simple ways which may help prevent minor conflicts from escalating to major crises:

  • Acknowledge that conflict exists
  • Look out for potential problems and act before they escalate
  • Help team members create mutual respect
  • Ensure team members are aware that petty arguments are unacceptable

Early Warning Signs of Workplace Conflict

It is important that those in a managerial position are aware of possible early warning signs which may suggest that a conflict is imminent within the workplace.

Examples of such signs include hostile tones either on the phone, in person or in email communication, non-verbal cues such as slamming filing cabinets or doors, employees refusing to talk to each other and glaring.

Also, one may be able to just pick up that things are not right simply by recognizing a change in the atmosphere.

Signs of Workplace Conflict Requiring Immediate Action

There are several warning signs which are likely to indicate that a minor conflict is at risk of developing into a major issue.

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Managers should be aware of certain warning type behaviors such as an individual exhibiting aggressive behavior, inappropriate reactions, shouting, crying or causing disruption within the workplace.

It is absolutely crucial that upon identifying such behaviors or warning signs that the individuals concerned are taken out of the environment into a private room to talk through the situation.

Ways to Reduce Workplace Conflict

Once one has acknowledged that a conflict exists it is important not to just assume it will be sorted out on without any outside intervention. Talk to the individuals concerned and explain why work is no place for holding resentments and grudges.

Organize team building activities which are designed to help build a sense of respect for each other.

Reward good team work and use it as an example to motivate other employees to work well together. If all else fails, it might be easiest to simply move the individuals to different parts of the office or at least arrange their desks so they are no longer in eye contact.

As highlighted above, workplace conflict is an increasingly significant issue which may result in stress, lowered productivity and make for a very unpleasant work environment. The key is to spot workplace conflict early on and be pro-active in dealing with relevant issues before they have time to escalate.

Source:

Sember, B. & T. Bad Apples


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