It is said often that the time spent with coworkers surpasses time spent with anyone else, including family. Typically we work 8-9 hours a day often in a location surrounded by virtual strangers who we grow to know through stressful occupational projects and social interaction. Taking in society’s increased connectivity, that work day tends to last late into the evening or early morning hours as well. Maintaining strong connections with the people we work with is invaluable. It increases your productivity and makes your workplace a more pleasant place to be.
Creating a peaceful office space can sometimes involve finding resolutions to conflict among your team. And those internal problems should not be avoided, especially if you’re taking on the role of “leader.” Everyone is looking to you to keep the boat sailing smoothly.
Most kinds of conflict tend to elicit an emotional response from the parties involved. Rather than react in an automatic response, it’s important to maintain professionalism. Approach any difficult situation with an open mind and a desire to communicate, understand, and deliberate on a solution. As the supervisor or mediator, this is even more important. There are two sides to every story, and they must be heard out in their entirety to reach an educated resolution.
Empathy and respect are key facets to be used throughout the conflict-resolution process. Are the employee’s issues being driven from personal events or true problems with their coworkers? Perhaps there is something going on under the surface that the disputing parties don’t realize. The conflict at hand could even go so far as being contradictory to their beliefs or cultural differences. Working within a diverse organization is fantastic in creating ideas from different viewpoints, but it does bring its own responsibilities. Creating a workplace that encourages and enforces mutual respect of the whole workforce is paramount to lasting peace.
Preventing conflict is ideal. Instilling an environment that is open to discussion and courteous to all of the staff will generate a happy workplace. This is where policies such as “an open door” can be utilized to boost communication between all team members. If an employee is unhappy, the supervisor will want to know about it, and if they’re unhappy with another coworker, then all parties should work to achieve a satisfied outcome. Your entire staff should feel welcome to ask for help from their HR department and superiors.
Following up after a solution had been reached is also vital. To truly see that a conflict has been put to rest, all parties must show it in their day to day interactions. The cliché “actions speak louder than words” speaks volumes of what to expect. Compromises or action plans, whatever had been decided at the end of the resolution discussion must carry forth into the future. That’s the only way to ensure a balance for your workforce and to know the problems of the past are firmly put where they belong: the past.
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