Managing Conflict at Work
Why is Conflict Management important?
Conflict management is important in our lives, especially in our professional/working environment. We need to ensure that we build and maintain relationships with our colleagues so that a productive work environment is established. Conflict becomes a problem when it begins to affect productivity of staff or progression of objectives. Conflict can also lead to relationship breakdowns which may lead to valued staff leaving the company.
Learning how to manage conflict will empower you to resolve difficult situations and improve relationships with co-workers. Continue reading for our top tips for managing conflict at work.
Identify why the conflict started
You firstly need to identify where the conflict has come from. It is important to work out exactly what has caused and developed the disagreement so that you can start to understand the other persons point of view. If it helps, write down a timeline of what has happened during the buildup to the conflict so you can piece together the process that has led to this point. For example, if the conflict is regarding the direction that a project should go, you should map out key milestones of what has happened up to the present day including when the conflict came about.
You should also make note of the outcome you wanted, as well as the other persons’ who is engaged in the conflict. Once you have all of this information, you can begin to build a picture of your point of view, and the other persons point of view. From here, you can begin to plan a way of resolving conflict.
Plan a resolution
Now that you know what has caused the workplace conflict, and why it came about, you can begin planning a resolution. This step is usually the hardest in the process as it may involve compromise and coming to an agreement, even if you don’t agree with the outcome. If you have followed the above process, you should already begin to see an outcome for managing the conflict at work. Seek advice from colleagues and/or managers as they will be able to offer a unbiased opinion on whether the outcome is suitable for your organisation.
Arrange a meeting with your colleague to discuss the conflict and ensure you make them aware that you have a resolution you would like to propose.
Drawing a conclusion
Now that you are ready to meet with your colleague, you should plan how you are going to interact with them. Take note of the following points for your conflict resolution meeting;
- Set an objective – Know what you want to achieve from the meeting. This should always be a professional objective e.g. get a paused project moving forward again
- Remain professional – Ensure you remain professional during the meeting. Do not raise your voice or show any agressive body language. Be firm with your approach, not demanding.
- Recap and explain – You want to start by recapping why the conflict has come about and explain that to move forward, there needs to be a mutually agreeable resolution.
- Explain your resolution, highlighting the benefits to your colleague – Slowly and firmly explain your solution to managing conflict at work. Make sure you reiterate the benefits to the other person to show your compromise and ownership of the situation.
- Ask for feedback – Actively ask for feedback from your colleague so they know you are interested in what they have to say. Discuss ideas they have and implement them into your resolution plan.
Once you have put a plan in place for conflict management, continue to evaluate how the situation progresses overtime. You want to see an improvement in the working relationship with your colleague, as well as the cause of the conflict resolving. If you find that the relationship is beginning to break down or the project is heading off track, you should arrange to meet with your colleague to ensure the situation can be discussed and resolved as soon as possible.
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