Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. Managers face frustration when productivity is low, and employees deal with challenges among co-workers on a daily basis. Office conflict does not need to be a negative force that derails the company culture, however. Professionals who find strategies to cope with challenges in a positive and effective manner can motivate others and improve workforce productivity and profitability.
Office conflict can be positive when it exposes new ideas and promotes healthy competition. Innovative strategies are often discovered when professionals do not agree and are forced to compromise. Individuals who commit to actively listening to others even when they are opposed to the ideas learn how to collaborate and work as a team.
Office conflict is often minimized with clear and concise communication practices, explains Phyllis Korkki with the New York Times. Managers should establish guidelines for resolving differences in opinion in a positive manner. Employees should be given equal time to express their thoughts and ideas without interruptions or criticism from co-workers or managers. People who feel secure in communicating to others without being shut down immediately tend to work out problems and challenges in an effective and professional manner.
Employers should also establish norms for behavior when confronted with office conflict. Meetings should not be a free for all for employees to label or demoralize their co-workers. Managers must outline acceptable behavior and procedures for expressing ideas and constructive criticism. Behavioral guidelines may include waiting for a designated turn to talk, specific words and phrases that are not allowed in the workplace and actions or gestures that are prohibited. Employees should be trained on how to communicate productively and cohesively with co-workers so that they are prepared to handle challenges when they arise. Managers who provide examples of encouraging phrases and actions designed to inspire and motivate others increase the opportunity for enhanced results and less distractions caused by emotional outbreaks.
Office conflict regarding tasks and priorities can often produce heated debates. Employers should work closely with teams working on projects to help them delegate tasks, establish priorities and create a timeline to complete the work to reduce the risk of animosity among employees and groups. Managers should identify the strengths of employees and assign tasks to individuals with proficiency in the related area to increase the potential success of the team and the project itself while minimizing the risks of potential conflicts.
Workplaces are comprised of professionals with differing opinions, diverse philosophies and varied levels of work ethic. It is inevitable that disagreements occur in the workplace, but when employers and managers have practices in place to combat office conflict, employees are much more likely to resolve issues and problems independently and in a manner that promotes a positive company culture.
Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net