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How to effectively handle employee conflict

Conflict is common in most workplaces. While it may not seem too detrimental at low levels, research has found that serious conflict and toxic workplace culture can significantly impact productivity, confidence and motivation. It also leads to more absenteeism and higher rates of employee turnover.

Obviously, no business is going to thrive if the team is upset, distracted, or avoiding work due to conflict, but it’s not completely unexpected, given friction and discord do occur when people work together.

It’s wise then, to be realistic about workplace conflict, and take a proactive approach to effectively managing and resolving conflict, and equipping every employee with conflict-management skills.

Not only will it ensure you meet your obligations to ensure the health and safety of your workers, it will help turn conflict into a constructive, energising force that makes for a better business.

Let’s have a look on how to best deal with conflict in a busy workplace:

  • Embrace it - instead of avoiding or shutting down conflict, good managers accept it as a natural part of human relations that can spark healthy debate, stimulate innovation, and increase engagement and trust.

  • Plan and get in early - Be ready for conflict so you can respond constructively to issues as they arise, resolve disagreements before they turn into full-blown disputes or tackle misconduct head-on.

  • Keep communication respectful - ask for and consider everyone’s opinions and focus on the issues rather than the people. Compromise can be a lot easier if no one feels like they’ve lost or won.

  • Train for it - employees who learn conflict-management skills are more comfortable and confident in handling differing views and concerns, more likely to positively resolve conflict, and experience less conflict overall.

  • Be compassionate - people want to be treated with respect and understanding, so look for mutually-acceptable outcomes. Working positively through problems can really bring the best out in your people.


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