Jan 16, 2017
Posted in: workplace
Your Employee and Family Assistance Program (Edited by James Oloo)
In an article that appeared in the December 2013 GDI Communicator (page 1), Gabriel Dumont Institute Human Resources Director Jim Edmonson discussed the dangers of workplace conflict, as well as some ways conflict could occur at the workplace. The article noted that “conflict is inevitable.” In this article, we will share seven strategies to combat workplace conflict and help you resolve the conflict in the best way for your organization.
Meet with everyone involved and ask each person to summarize their point of view. To find a compromise, work backwards from common long-term goals. Sometimes everyone may agree to disagree which can actually be quite relieving. Just be sure to intervene if employees start to attack each other. Realize that inviting people to speak up may initially increase the level of conflict, but sometimes you have to pass through this to find a solution.
Take a step back and ask yourself whether work conditions had an impact on this issue. If so, you may have to make changes to the way your workplace functions. As a manager, director, or someone in a position of authority, you have to take some of the responsibility for the problem and be a part of the solution.
Realize the impact
Understand that the employees involved in the conflict are not the only ones affected. Everyone on your team can start to feel the stress of the issue and living through the hostile work environment. Therefore, extend your support to everyone and even ask for input—depending on the type of conflict you are dealing with.
Praise and recognize
Make efforts to reward your team for their hard work and build morale. This could mean a lunch out after meeting a big target or an evening event to celebrate an employee’s milestone. Make sure that your expectations are realistic and consistent and try to treat everyone equally. If your team feels valued and appreciated they will be less likely to start fights or be in harsh competition.
Practice what you preach
You cannot expect your team to act appropriately and get along if you don’t. It doesn’t help to gossip or to be swayed by office politics. Think before you speak and be aware of “danger zones.” Never comment on personal appearance and always avoid jokes that relate to race, gender, religion, ethnicity, age, disability or sexual orientation. Lead by example and your team will be more likely to follow suit.
If workplace conflict ever escalates to threats, sexual harassment, physical contact or intimidation, action must be taken immediately. The employee in a position of authority should help ensure safety of the team. To prevent conflict from reaching this point, try to be as approachable as possible and keep your eyes and ears open for warning signs.
Mitigation and Management
The job of mediator comes with the territory for an employee who supervises others. This can be a real challenge because of the dicey situations you may be faced with and there’s no straightforward rulebook to reach for. Conflict in the workplace is inevitable but by dealing with these issues before they become more complex, you’ll ensure squabbles don’t escalate into poor morale, lost productivity or worse still, harassment. Help create a work environment that lets others succeed by identifying and defining inappropriate behaviour, setting a good example and creating a culture of openness.