5 Strategies for Diffusing Workplace Conflict

Diversity in the workplace can enhance the productivity of your corporate teams and encourage the sharing of new and unique ideas. However, along with diversity may come occasional conflicts, and avoiding them may be difficult. A 2015 study by a leading workplace publication revealed that poor communication is a leading cause of conflict among employees; however, as a team leader or a CEO, you may find it challenging to resolve these issues. If so, there are several strategies you can employ that may put an end to workplace conflict.

1.      Acknowledge the Problem

When employees are engaged in conflict, it may only increase their frustration if their team manager is actively ignoring the problem. Pretending that conflict within your team does not exist will not resolve the issue and may even lead to further drama when employees resort to hurtful or passive-aggressive behavior to vent their feelings. As team leader, it is your job to acknowledge conflict between employees and let them know you are there to help them resolve it.

2.      Identify Those Involved

Trying to solve workplace conflict when there is more gossip than facts being exchanged by every individual in the office can make your task seem impossible. Before you can put an end to the conflict, you must first weed out who is involved and who is only serving the rumor mill. Do not be afraid to reprimand those who gossip and let them know how loose talk may sabotage your efforts to resolve the issue. Putting an end to potentially hurtful talk may help you see what is at the root of the problem and how it began.

3.      Be Objective

Employees in conflict are unlikely to come to you with their problem if they feel you value them less over others. You may not consciously do so; however, the dangers of favoritism in the workplace can be especially damaging when it comes to being objective in the face of conflict. Therefore, listening to all sides of a conflict with an impartial ear can be key to diffusing it.

If one or more employees come into remediation with the assumption that you favor one individual over the other, dispel these notions by letting them all know it is your goal to be objective and that ultimately, solving the problem is most important. This may encourage those involved to speak more freely and give you information that you might not have known about previously.

4.      Work to Satisfy Individual Goals

Successful business leaders, such as Eugene Chrinian, likely rise through the ranks because they understand the needs and goals of individuals who work for them. Teams cannot function when individual job goals are derailed by conflict, so when problems arise, you may want to review each team member’s goal and how achieving that will contribute to the overall project.

For example, if your team is working to put together a cohesive social media campaign for a business and each member has a different idea about which factor is most important for success, the project is not likely to be successful. To solve such an issue, identify and discuss individual goals and then work to fit their edges together so that each is satisfied. One instance of this could be breaking down the team into pairs so each of their talents complements the other, such as having photo editors and content writers working together to create marketing infographics.

5.      Discuss the Benefits of Resolution

When employees have been in conflict for some time, they may not want to put aside their position or hurt feelings easily. As you work toward a solution, remind those involved that solving the issue can have a variety of benefits for them as individuals and as members of a team. Helping them see a more peaceful future may make them more willing to end a conflict.

Workplace conflict can happen at any time. Having the tools to diffuse it effectively can prevent the damage of morale and foster team harmony.

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