Conflict in the workplace, while not often pleasant, is a normal occurrence in most businesses. It’s not always a bad thing, healthy conflict can open up new ways of thinking and more innovative solutions to problems but ignoring them can have significant ramifications.
The good thing about conflict is that it’s always resolvable if managed in the right way.
Last week, my ‘MASTERMIND. with Sherrie’ participants heard from an expert in successful conflict management, Kristie Walker, founder of On Track Investigations.
Kristie’s business specialises in workplace investigations, dispute resolution and organisational development with the goal to make work a better place for people.
With the experience that Kristie has in this field, she was the perfect keynote speaker to share her knowledge, strategies, and expertise on how to successfully manage conflict in the participants' workplaces.
Here is some of the knowledge she shared with us.
Conflict is a failure to be in agreement or accord. Left unchecked or ignored it will grow into something that can be quite ugly for all parties. What the conflict is may not necessarily be what the issue is about, it can be based on perceptions, assumptions, and misunderstandings.
Managing conflict at work can be confronting. However, it’s important to be proactive about it and intervene early.
As a leader in your business, it is your responsibility to observe any dynamics in the workplace and have conversations early on before it turns into something bigger than it needs to be.
Approach your team members in your 1 on 1’s and ask if everything is okay. Don’t be surprised if at first if they say it is, people do want to have the conversation however they need encouragement and reassurance to help them start. If you are picking up that things really aren’t okay, then push back and dig a little deeper by asking questions.
Your role in this conversation is to seek to understand the situation and explore it from their perspective. It’s important to uncover where they feel they have been trespassed upon and to make sure that they know that they are being heard.
As a leader of your business, there is a power dynamic between yourself and your employees. Don’t expect your employees to come to you or assume they will. There is a level of trust that you will have to build with them by leading by example and being a great role model before they will be comfortable enough to approach you. Focus on building a culture where there is open dialogue for coming forth and expressing their concerns and providing feedback. Allowing your staff to feel secure and comfortable in doing this will help future conflict.
Once you have uncovered the conflict and their unspoken expectations it’s time to resolve the conflict by coaching them through to a resolution.
Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that if there are any misunderstandings on any expectations outlined, they are cleared up. Keep any language neutral but say what you think. Get to the root problem for both parties and manage the expectations of both parties and the outcomes from the conversation.
In ‘MASTERMIND. with Sherrie’ I brought together the brightest business leaders, educators, and innovators to share with the participants their strategies and knowledge to implement into their lives, grow their businesses and build their best lives.
The 2023 series will be launching soon, if you are interested in taking part you can pre-register your interested here: sherriestoror.com/mastermind