Conflict Management – How to Handle Conflict with Your Co-workers

Conflict in the office is common and managers should know how to determine and deal with it. This problem comes from various perspectives and ideas among different persons. Conflict is not that bad and it is a part of life. It helps identify problems or possible issues that should be corrected before errors happen.

Thus, it is fair to state that conflict is essential for the evolvement of company needs and goals. Conflict, particularly competition, is a good motivator for employees to take part in the decision making process.

Debating over issues can lead to improved ideas and processes. However, it can be tiring to get through conflicts since it is difficult to set personal feelings aside and view things from a different angle. If it is not addressed immediately and properly, conflict can quickly escalate. The problem will continue and everyone will lose.

Conflict in the office can stem from different ways. Change between managers and employees, broken social norm boundaries and poor communication are just some of the common causes of conflict. As mentioned, immediately dealing with the conflict is important. A good thing is that there are several conflict management techniques that can be used to handle the situation and here are some of them.

Act as a role model
This conflict management technique greatly relies on the manager. It is important for the manager to set an example of actions and behaviors that are acceptable in the office.

In order to keep the respect of the team, the manager should keep all personal issues confidential, never act in a bullying or threatening manner or treat one employee more importantly than the others.

The manager must also provide employee expectation by saying clearly what is not or what is acceptable so that the employees know where the line is. Should there be internal bickering or issues within the team, the manager should clamp down immediately to provide an example otherwise, this could turn into bullying. The manager should not also take part in bullying other managers or members of the team.

Formal processes
If a conflict occurs and it is unexpected by the manager, using formal procedures to deal with it may be necessary. In this case, the manager would say the procedures and policies of the company, guiding both the parties through the choices available to them as well as offering moral support.

The manager should also make sure that all the team members are aware of the process to provide an example of how seriously the corporation handles such conflicts.

This will also prevent other tensions from getting traction. If the conflict got worse and it’s already beyond the capability of the manger to solve it alone, then the senior managements must now be called on.

Monitor team relationships
Early identification of potential conflict through carefully monitoring the team as well as dealing with tension that could possibly grow into big conflicts is another conflict management technique that can be used by managers. Early intervention is usually the best means to handle conflicts as it prevents the disappointment and time of formal procedures. The manager should serve as a mediator if the source of the potential conflict is identified in order to resolve the issue immediately. This can be done through speaking to every party separately or having a controlled confrontation to talk about the tensions as well as settle on a resolution.

Disciplinary action
Another conflict management technique that should be considered by a manager is initiating a disciplinary action through either terminating or removing a team member. The manager should be confident enough to directly confront the person if the problem has got to this level. Allowing the team members to deal with the problem themselves will be of no use and it is also not right to ignore the confrontation.

If the person is removed and undergoes some training before returning to his or her team, the manager should follow up the resolution as well as make sure that the tension will not return. A troublesome team member must never be permitted to return to the team.

People deal with conflict in various ways such as using one’s authority or position to solve the problem or through humor. Some people avoid their colleagues. However, this is usually not a good thing to do as there will be no communication between the parties.

This can be classified as lose-lose situation since nobody really gets what they want and the cause of the conflict is still there and similar problems occur over and over. When this happens, as a manager, it is better to think of the best way to handle it.

By properly implementing conflict management techniques, you will be able to restore the peaceful environment in your workplace. This will in turn allow everyone to work well and avoid any tensions that can affect their performance.

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