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Running a business

How Communication and Conflict in the Workplace Impact Productivity

When you assemble a team with the skills needed to bring your business vision to life, you often end up with a diverse group working together as one. While their combined expertise might be just what your business needs to succeed, keeping them all on the same page can sometimes prove challenging. Interpersonal relationships between workers often carry some hostility fueled by differing personalities and backgrounds. But you can take steps to reduce friction and make your work environment happy and harmonious.

Common Causes of Office Conflicts

Some of the most common causes of office conflicts include:

  • Personality differences
  • Poor or inattentive leadership
  • Dishonesty
  • Stress

For example, one team member may prefer to get things done early, while another team member may prefer to leave things until the last minute. When these two people work together, their different work styles could cause potential conflicts.

However, when it comes right down to it, the root cause of interpersonal conflicts is poor communication. Lack of effective communication often leads to confusion regarding things such as responsibilities, priorities, and access to resources. These confusions can gradually cause conflicts if they’re not clarified as soon as they arise.

Cost of Unresolved Office Conflicts

Your business operations rely on the interdependence of your employees. When people don’t get along, they spend time dealing with conflicts rather than working on productive tasks. They may spend time trying to convince other employees to take their side or finding ways to retaliate. All these activities equal lost productive time.

When office conflicts escalate, people may even take time off from work to avoid coming to the office. This can lead to project delays or even failures, which in turn causes customer dissatisfaction. Your business could even lose customers as a result of office conflicts.

In addition, your employees may quit or get fired due to interpersonal conflicts in the workplace. The cost to replace an employee, particularly a mid- to high-level employee, is one that you should avoid as much as possible.

Emotional Intelligence and Office Conflict

Emotional intelligence is an important component of the soft skill set needed for a business' success. It’s the ability to recognize, be in control of, and express your emotions while managing interpersonal relationships in a caring and fair way. It’s generally composed of the two following factors:

  • Social competency: This involves having the ability to sense emotions in others and comprehend how they feel (social awareness), and it also involves the ability to employ the knowledge of your own emotions and others to manage interactions (relationship management).
  • Personal competency: This is the ability to perceive your own personal emotions (self-awareness) and the ability to use your emotional awareness to express emotions maturely and effectively (self-management).

After realizing the importance of emotional intelligence, the next question is often, “Well, how can I boost my emotional intelligence?” Emotional intelligence improves with practice. To begin, try exercising your ability to express empathy. This can be as simple as making a consistent effort to thank your employees for a job well done or setting aside the time to mentor those whose performance has earned them the opportunity.

It’s also important to hold yourself accountable by following the same rules you require your employees to follow. Admit when you’ve made a mistake, and be transparent in your leadership. Employees want to know that you’re trustworthy, and acknowledging your own areas for improvement makes you more genuine.

The Importance of Engagement and Creativity in Office Conflict

Workers who lack engagement with your business’s main mission can drive down morale across your entire staff, and those who remain actively non-engaged often dampen their co-workers’ enthusiasm. It’s often helpful to confront the issue diplomatically in a private setting to help you discover why those workers don’t feel connected to your mission. It also allows you to provide opportunities to get them back on board with the team. If they feel frustration due to a lack of challenge or under-utilization of their particular talents, maintaining a company culture that promotes communication and creative resolution can get employees back on track quickly. Take action right away to prevent these situations from festering and growing, and encourage brainstorming sessions that let your diverse staff share ideas in a nonjudgmental environment.

Creating Clear-Cut Conflict Resolution Policies

Making conflict resolution policies is important because it can reduce office productivity and efficiency and encourage bad behaviour. If two of your staff members just can’t get along, bring them together for a moderated discussion of their issues, and seek out ways to keep them happy. It’s important to set clear-cut rules that demand each participant treat others respectfully, especially in cases where the discussion can get heated.

Provide Incentives for Team Success

Incentives actively encourage your staff to work together to succeed. You can still focus on individual incentives with year-end bonus programs while developing team goals that pay off for every member. Use long lunches to motivate staff who have been working extra hard, or offer one-time spot bonuses for teams that deliver early on group projects. Peer-to-peer rewards can help boost morale across your staff by asking each member to nominate someone they work with for special recognition. This not only re-frames conflicts in a way that sees the good in each staff member, it also displays your commitment to keeping your workers satisfied with their jobs.

Love, Policy, and Office Conflict

When it comes to affairs of the heart, it’s a must that policies are in place to address romance between workers. Regardless of your policy, workers should understand the dangers of sexual harassment, and they should be encouraged to report their relationships to human resources before conflicts arise. One way to prevent abuse of power is to ban relationships between staff and the people they report to directly and to require everyone to act professionally while at work.

Though it can seem difficult to develop a happy, harmonious work environment for a diverse group, planning ahead can simplify the challenge. By fostering individual growth and team unity while ensuring your staff understands work rules with clear and concise policies, you can create a productive team culture that benefits your company, employees, and customers. Plus, when conflicts are few in the office, you have more freedom to handle business matters remotely. QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their businesses on the go. Download the app today to see how much productivity you can gain.”

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