Conflict is found everywhere, even in the workplace. Of course, conflict in any form isn’t good for business, which is why managers like you have to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.
What can happen if a conflict goes unresolved? For starters, unresolved conflicts lead to a feeling of permanent friction around the workplace. Over time, employees may even start to take sick days to avoid conflicts. Strife at work can also lead to frequent turnover, forcing you to spend more of your precious time hiring and training when you have other things to do.
One of the easiest ways to tackle workplace conflict is to begin with your own conflict resolution skills. Start by keeping your eyes open for potential arguments or brewing conflict, including rudeness between employees, a lack of respect, and any unnecessary competition.
If you notice any tension, step in and help find a solution. It’s always a good idea to listen carefully to everyone involved, making sure you understand the problem from all sides. As a manager, try to keep a neutral stance and focus on the problem and potential solutions, rather than any personality issues.
When you need to de-escalate a conflict that’s already out of hand, avoid getting defensive or taking sides. Keep in mind that the problem will eventually be resolved, but damaged relationships could endure forever. So go ahead and prioritize protection of courtesy and respect within the working relationships involved. Staying calm and maintaining a non-aggressive tone and body language will help in your conflict resolution efforts.
In some cases and despite all your efforts, conflict escalates to the physical level. If this happens, don’t hesitate to call your workplace security or even the police.
Watching for friction is one of the primary duties of a good manager. By working closely with employees, confronting conflict head-on and in a constructive way, and by keeping your cool throughout the resolution process, you can stop potentially costly disputes before they boil over.