Suggestions for Handling Workplace Conflict
When you bring a group of people in an environment that can be competitive, such as workplace, it can be inevitable that you will have conflict erupting from time to time. Departmental managers are often trained on how to handle workplace conflict, but even the best training can be enhanced by a comprehensive understanding of the basics of conflict resolution.
In some instances, a little conflict in the workplace can be healthy. It can stir up the emotions in your top employees and spur them on to perform better. But you do not have the luxury of waiting around to see which conflict is minor and which conflict is potentially harmful. When you are faced with workplace conflict, there are certain actions you must take to prevent the conflict from getting out of hand.
The worst thing you can do is to hope that a conflict resolves itself or goes away. If you wait too long, then a situation can continue to grow and it will eventually start to involve more and more people. To prevent the conflict from consuming the entire office, you need to act as soon as you are made aware of the conflict. Once you know that conflict is on the horizon, you need to work fast to snuff it out and stop it in its tracks.
Workplace conflicts often start as rumors that many people feel are unsubstantiated. When you act quickly, you can still stop the conflict while it is the rumor stage. That is important because that is when it will do the least damage. If you act quietly by gathering information and having individual conversations with the parties involved, then you can prevent the rumors from turning into facts. Once people find out that you are working on resolving a conflict, the escalation of events can happen quickly. You need to be very quiet and very deliberate in your attempts to stop a conflict in order to prevent it from getting out of hand.
Get Both Sides
A good manager knows that he cannot side with anyone in a conflict. Some employees start conflicts because they are counting on the support of the manager because they feel that they have a personal relationship with the manager. To avoid much larger problems, the manager needs to be impartial and get the full story from both sides of the conflict. It is important to get the full story from only those directly involved in the conflict and avoid getting any opinions or hearsay from others.
Make a Decision
Once you have both sides of the story, you may indeed realize that the conflict is minor and may have already resolved itself. But if the conflict looks to be in the growing stages, then you need to make the decision to get human resources involved and find a way to end the conflict before it gets out of hand. A fair solution to a conflict will help the manager to maintain control over the department and avoid others from taking sides and escalating the problem.