Relationship experts sometimes encourage couples to fight. Some topics need to be argued out and fights can actually strengthen a relationship. Your organization will also face conflict. Anytime a group of people comes together, there will be some level of differing opinions.
Diversity is essential to building a successful team, which means your team is also likely to face problems. Knowing how to deal with conflicting personalities and working styles will help make you a better manager. Conflict isn’t just natural—it’s productive. That happens only when people know how to handle it well. The trouble is that most managers are never taught how to manage conflicts at work. They develop the skills to become an expert in their job, but they lack formal training in the people skills they are just expected to pick up as they go.
Learn how to manage conflict by avoiding these common management mistakes:
Ignoring team conflicts will not make them go away. Unfortunately, this is the method most managers choose to dealing with workplace conflict. Over half reported to an older Roffey Park survey that “inaction” was their organization’s main method of conflict resolution. This is such a popular choice that 35 percent of managers would rather parachute jump than address a problem with a colleague. Even eight percent would rather eat bugs. But inaction can sabotage your organization. If a problem goes unresolved, it will grow into resentment that can derail future projects even after the nature of the dispute becomes irrelevant. Inaction will lead to tense relationships between your employees.
Many people avoid conflict out of fear. They don’t want to deal with conflict because they are afraid they’ll lose. Fear begins when managers view conflicts as “something they can’t control and are unlikely to win.” Take the element of competition out of the conflict and you will be able to assess the situation from a calmer, neutral viewpoint. If winning is your only goal, your conflict may never end. Put the goals of your company above your personal preferences. This means tucking your pride and facing problems head-on. Removing the element of competition will also help you evaluate whether it’s a personality or organizational issue that you must solve.
If you have made it past the step of inaction and taken competition out of the equation, you may still face another hurdle in your conflict resolution skills. Not listening is an easy trap for managers to fall into when dealing with employee conflicts. Shutting down your employees before hearing them out can be just as ineffective as inaction. According to research in a post on Come Recommended, “85 percent of what we know was learned through listening.” Being an active listener is essential to resolving conflicts in a healthy manner that will build a stronger foundation for the future. You want to do more than solve the conflict; you also want to prevent future conflicts.
Not Including HR
Utilize this valuable resource in your company. It’s what human resources is for… helping in situations like this. They act as an objective third party and can provide sound and reasonable advice based on corporate policies.
Dealing with conflicts at work comes down to an issue of respect. Effective managers value their employees. When you avoid conflict, you are also saying that their disagreements are not worthy of your time. Making conflict into a competition occurs when you let your pride get in the way of your work. And when you try to resolve conflicts simply from a position of authority, you can create greater animosity. Keep these common management mistakes in mind and you will help conflict become another tool of your organization’s success.
How do you manage team conflict at work?