Conflict management is a skill, one that can be taught. When trouble strikes, you’ll be glad your team members have this ability.
Workplace conflict resolution isn’t just something that has to be done every once in a while – it’s a skill. Individuals with management responsibilities should be prepared to step in whenever problems arise, preventing the lasting damage that can come from unchecked disagreements. The fact that conflict resolution is a unique skill set means it can be taught and instilled through training and should be part of any organization’s employee education priorities.
To discover the value and use of conflict resolution skills, it pays to first consider the consequences of not having these abilities. Next, envision what kinds of specific skills fall under the conflict resolution umbrella. Then, it’s time to investigate the courses that can instill this knowledge in the workforce and improve overall preparedness.
Why Learn Conflict Resolution?
The most powerful incentive to teach employees effective conflict resolution skills comes from considering what a lack of those abilities would mean. A workplace in which no one is properly trained in resolving disagreements and arguments may end up losing productivity as divisions simmer beneath the surface. The Society for Human Resource Management pointed out that such unaddressed problems tend to cost productivity, and when such issues finally erupt, they can lead valuable employees to depart the company unhappily.
The solution to workplace conflicts isn’t to suppress them completely – that’s simply impossible, and it ignores the fact that productively expressed dissent is a positive force in an office. Instead of ignoring disagreements, companies have to address them head-on in effective ways. Having trained managers who are comfortable mediating issues is the ideal way to improve an environment, as such individuals can defuse negative conflicts and turning positive ones into real change.
What Does Effective Mediation Entail?
There’s no one path to effective conflict resolution because every issue and disagreement is different. There are a few principles that will help managers find the right solution for a particular problem, however. Perhaps the most important is always being willing to communicate openly. Harvard Extension School’s Eugene Kogan suggested that when disagreements and tension emerge between colleagues, it’s important for the parties involved to figure out where their interests match and where they don’t. Rather than digging into positions, effective managers will gather more information.
Kogan described a common situation in which conflict may emerge: A new leader in a department may change roles and responsibilities, and employees are unsure of their future outlook. Reducing or even eliminating potential friction between the parties could begin with a carefully worded email, leading up to a face-to-face meeting in which both sides share their concerns and perspectives. This deliberate and calm approach could get everyone on the same page and not lead to open argument – and it starts with a willingness to communicate.
How Should Leaders Administer Discipline?
Sometimes, disciplinary action is necessary when workers are at fault for causing hostility or conflict. Business Management Daily presented a few of HR expert Paul Falcone’s tips on making this process productive. For example, he notes leaders should make sure their standards are consistent, realistic and feasibly applicable to the complex and varied situations that can occur in an office. Furthermore, managers should always involve the HR department in disciplinary meetings. The third-party will witness the encounter and ensure the employee is being treated fairly.
Falcone encourages leaders to create disciplinary systems that include progressive levels of escalation. There should be a clear path from a first warning to a second and so on. Giving out the same kind of warning several times in a row could have a negligible effect on employee behavior and fail to send a helpful message. Getting problematic employees back on track can be a difficult but worthwhile process.
What Kinds of Courses Are Available?
There are many courses available for companies seeking to teach employees the practices and priorities associated with defusing workplace conflict. The following are just a few examples of these training types:
- Turning Conflict into Collaboration: This course is based on the concept that while compromising is the classic method of resolving disagreements, collaboration is more effective. This process isn’t simple, and it requires employees to communicate clearly, compare their objectives and work toward a mutually satisfying resolution.
- Curing Negativity: Creating Positive Attitudes: Letting bad attitudes fester in the workplace can lead to conflict and lost productivity. By learning from courses such as this one, managers can discover strategies for injecting positivity into their environments and preventing lingering issues from becoming toxic over time.
- Conflict Resolution in Industrial Facilities: Varied workplaces will bring their own complexities and challenges. This course is part of a series, with another version focusing on offices. When teams study from courses that address their specific needs, the chances are greater that they’ll know how to deal with the situations that arise.
Conflict resolution is a series of interlocking skills, centering around essential values such as communication and collaboration. When these abilities are present, workplace conditions can improve drastically.