The rise of hybrid and remote working in a post-pandemic world has impacted human interaction and connection. A shift in workplace communication has had a domino effect on employees’ relationships– leading to more conflict within the workplace and contributing toward a negative employee experience.
What does workplace conflict look like? It can manifest in different ways. Some examples or scenarios of workplace conflict include work disagreements, personality clashes, discrimination, and even bullying.
Interestingly, managers spend 4 hours a week on average dealing with conflict, according to The Myers-Briggs Company research. Added to this, 25% of people believe that their managers don’t handle conflict well, highlighting the fact that more leaders need to understand the best practices for conflict management.
An effective approach to conflict management can enhance your professional growth as a leader and improve your workplace culture.
How can you as a leader recognize and take steps to resolve conflict at your workplace? Keep reading to learn how to recognize these five indicators of workplace conflict…. or skip ahead for tips on how to resolve conflict in your organization.
5 Indicators of Workplace Conflict
1. Team Members Have Different Objectives
An effective team must be working towards the same common goal. A well-defined objective is essential in ensuring that everyone is moving in the same direction. As soon as objectives become polarized among team members, relationships will start to falter, and disagreements will begin to arise… undermining both the team and the goal.
2. Dysfunctional Meetings
Meetings, whether held in real life or virtually, should be dynamic sessions. If they quickly turn into sessions for airing grievances, then there are issues that need to be resolved. Be aware of any tension during the meeting. If only a few individuals dominate the meeting while other participants seem upset or distracted, then that could indicate problematic relationships.
In our post-pandemic world, virtual and hybrid meetings have become the norm which can lead to even more miscommunications, misunderstandings, and friction among team members. Don’t discount the need for a different set of skills to effectively lead these meetings.
3. Unhealthy Competition
Competition among employees is a crucial aspect of the success of any company. But when workers focus too much on outdoing each other to the extent of jeopardizing collaboration and cooperation, the results can be disastrous for the company. Some of the common signs of unhealthy competition include frequent arguing, lack of teamwork, showing off by individuals, and more.
4. Low Productivity
Are your employees working on a project which has come to a standstill? It could be a result of conflict between individuals. It is a possibility that those involved can’t agree on important areas – preventing the project from moving forward. It’s worth considering that the root cause of low productivity could be underlying conflict.
5. High Turn-over
Are employees leaving at a high rate? No one enjoys the hassles of searching for a job. So, if people are leaving, then that could be a sign of an internal problem that needs to be solved. Equally, if you notice that employees from specific teams are quitting, then there’s a chance that there is a managerial conflict.
So, once you’ve identified areas of conflict, how can you resolve them? Here are 4 tips for resolving conflict in your organization.
1. Deal with Conflict Right Away
When conflict happens, don’t avoid it or try to sweep it under the rug. Over time, negative emotions pile up so even a small disagreement will quickly transform into a full-blown conflict. Resolve issues immediately before they become entrenched into the workplace culture. Specific training can help you with the skills you need to exercise control when necessary.
Conflicts can occur at every level, so you must be alert to spot and handle them in a timely manner.
When a conflict develops between team members, talk to them and help them resolve their issue with you as mediator. If conflict arises between teams, find ways to encourage a non-judgmental space for communication. If the conflict is individual between you and one of your team members, resolve it as soon as possible and in private.
2. Make Space for Giving and Getting Feedback
Allowing employees to share feedback is an important step towards finding the best resolution. Keep in mind that this is a challenging task, particularly if tensions are high.
Set a clear objective for the feedback meeting. A clear focus helps keep the parties involved from finger-pointing and blaming each other. Instead, concentrate on finding ways to overcome the conflict while working together as a team. Ensuring the meeting provides a space where the conflicting parties feel free to share feedback is vital to all parties being able to feel heard and, importantly, to move forward without malice.
3. Identify Points of Agreement
You can resolve the disagreement only when you have identified points of agreement. As a facilitator, it is essential to give everyone an equal chance to speak and be heard. Listen keenly, avoid taking sides, and note down some important points. Focus on finding common ground that the conflicting parties can support. Listen to both sides and identify the commonalities.
4. Follow Up
Once a suitable solution to the conflict has been found, it’s imperative to follow up with the parties involved to assess the implementation process. Conducting surveys, face-to-face conversations, or joint debriefs are great ways to do a follow-up. If you find out that the solution isn’t bringing the desired results, you can go back to the drawing board and develop an alternative idea.
Resolving conflict requires a solid understanding of how to find long-term solutions to problems before they magnify and combust. Fostering a culture that seeks to actively and supportively resolve conflict will simultaneously foster a culture of respect.