In today’s face-paced work environment, conflicts between employees and employers are on the rise. Job stress from daily living can make its way into a person’s work life. While conflict might be a natural part of life, maintaining a positive work environment should be every employer’s goal.
April was Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, and across the country, companies planned events to bring awareness to this important issue. The goal is to teach companies that attempting to avoid conflict is a waste of time and resources. Instead, the goal should be have a structure in place to manage and deal with any issues. Secondly, that structure should include tactics to transform conflict into creativity.
But every month needs to draw attention to this issue.
There are several steps one can take to deal with conflict in the workplace. First you must establish exactly who is involved in the conflict and whether or not the conflict is interfering with their work. Once you have discovered the parties involved, speak to both individually. This will allow you to decide whether you, as the supervisor can correct the issue, or if HR needs to be involved.
After you have spoken with both parties individually, set a meeting for the following day for both to attend. There they will be allowed to state their issues. You will want to use a conference room for this meeting. Set ground rules that allow only one person to speak at a time without interruption. If the other party would like to comment, have them take notes, and they can comment when it is their turn. This meeting is about finding facts.
Once both parties have fully communicated their issues, it is time for the supervisor to restate what they have heard. Determine that there has been no misunderstanding. When both employees agree with the supervisor’s summary of events it is time to ask questions.
When asking questions, it is also important to ask both parties if they have any possible solutions to their issue. The supervisor will also offer a possible solution. When a solution has been agreed upon by all parties involved, restate the outcome one last time. It should then be put in writing.
Even with the best conflict resolution management in place, there can be times when tension is high in the workplace. If this is the case, holding a productive meeting can seem challenging, but there are things a supervisor can do to reduce this tension.
First, you’ll want to plan ahead. Predetermine what needs to be covered in the meeting and stick to it. Staying focused will help keep the meeting on track. Setting goals will help in keeping the meeting moving forward and being productive. It’s also important to determine the length of the meeting beforehand not allowing it to go overtime.
You will need to create an environment within the company and the meeting itself that demonstrates that all opinions are wanted. Don’t allow an atmosphere that makes employees feel that they must agree with one opinion and not voice dissension.
Perhaps most importantly, acknowledge the fact that there is tension. It’s not a secret and when it is acknowledged, the so called elephant in the room is somewhat deflated. This can go a long way to break the tension and provide a more productive meeting environment.
Tension and conflict is a fact of life and work. Implementing a conflict management plan can help a company deal with issues as they arise. Conflict can’t be avoided but it can be managed.
Author Info: Cary Betagole is proud to spread the word about Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, while also trying to generate much-needed awareness for sexual harassment training in the workplace. In addition to his work with WCAM, Cary is interested in promoting resources for the most typical kinds of sexual harassment and additional sexual harassment training materials. Written on behalf of Global Compliance.