Leadership and conflict go together. If you cannot or will not address conflict in a healthy, productive fashion, you should not be in a leadership role. You shouldn’t fear conflict; embrace it – it’s your job.
You can try to avoid conflict (a bad idea), but you cannot escape it. Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. It will find you whether you look for it (good idea – more later) or not. Being able to recognize conflict, understand its nature, and be able to swiftly resolve the conflict are prime leadership qualities, failure to do this will lead to your downfall.
Good conflict resolution skills will lead to good employee retention. But if you don’t deal effectively with conflict your best talent will leave for a better workplace environment. Failure to deal with conflict can result in loss of productivity, the stifling of creativity, and the creation of barriers to cooperation and collaboration. But good conflict resolution skill sets will build a sustainable business model.
Typically, the two main causes of conflict in the workplace related to poor communication or letting emotions drive decision-making.
The following tips will lead to more effective handling of conflicts in the workplace:
Define Acceptable Behavior – having clearly defined job descriptions for all staff to know what’s expected of them. Make it known what behavior will and won’t be tolerated. Having a published delegation of authority statement, encouraging sound business practices in collaboration, team building, leadership development, and talent management will all help avoid conflicts.
Approach Conflict Head-on – You can’t always prevent conflicts at work, but if you seek out areas of potential conflict and intervene proactively and decisively, you can prevent many conflicts from getting started.
Understanding the WIIFM Factor – understanding the other person’s “What’s In It For Me” position. If you understand their motivation, you can avoid conflicts by helping them achieve their objectives.
The Importance Factor – pick your battles and avoid conflict where possible. If the issue is important enough to create a conflict, then it must be important enough to resolve. Do whatever is necessary to open lines of communication and close any positional and/or philosophical gaps.
View Conflict as Opportunity – the outcome of many conflicts creates great teaching and learning opportunities. View a conflict as an opportunity for growth and development. Differing positions when addressed properly can stimulate innovation and learning whereas two people who are on “the same page” are less likely to come up with different positions. Smart leaders look for the upside in all differing opinions.
Resolutions can usually be found in conflicts where both parties are seriously seeking a positive outcome. Being prepared to compromise, forgive, show compassion and empathy, find common ground, be an active listener, and place the goals of the business ahead of your pride and reputation will always allow you to be successful in building rapport if the underlying desire is strong enough.
But, if all else fails and positional gaps cannot be closed, resolve the issue not by playing favorites, but by doing the right thing.
Let Corporate Business Solutions be your guide when you are facing conflicts in your workplace.