Cut the Conflicts and Improve Productivity with These 5 Tips

By Sara Pollock

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With many differing opinions occurring in the office, conflict is likely to arise. 85% of employees report experiencing conflict at work, and 30% say the conflict is nearly constant. That isn’t always a bad thing, though — it often leads to creative solutions, facilitates new ideas, and challenges the status quo. But, when conflict goes unchecked, it can become counterproductive and can deteriorate team dynamics. The challenge for managers is finding a constructive way to engage, manage, and resolve conflict in a way that maintains discourse and ingenuity without creating setbacks in productivity and interpersonal relationships.

Understanding Conflict

Conflict doesn’t necessarily mean incompatibility. It occurs when goals, processes, workflows, or emotions lead to disagreement. Regardless of the underlying issue — whether it’s a clash of values, needs, or ideas — conflict results when one individual or group feels blocked by another. But,

it’s important for managers to know when conflict is good, and when it’s bad. Effective managers don’t fear or discourage conflict, but rather, encourage creative tension when it’s necessary in order to impact positive change in the team and organization as a whole. Even so, they must understand how to manage conflict as it happens, or else they run the risk of an escalation. Good managers know how to turn conflict into productive outcomes.

Here are 5 ways to manage conflict in a productive way and affect positive change:

1. Take Charge of Conflicts

One of the biggest reason employee conflicts arise is that neither person knows who’s in charge, and both employees want to take the reins in lieu of acknowledging the other person’s leadership. If someone who both people could agree has authority were to interject and make decisions, these conflicts would simmer as fast as they flare.

54% of employees believe their managers could better handle conflict if they address it immediately. By taking a proactive role when you see conflicts arise, you make swifter, more authoritative talent management decisions that will put an end to the bickering and get people to move forward and improve productivity.

2. Encourage Communication

49% of employees say the cause for conflict comes from personality. This means many of the problems in the workplace can be avoided by paying careful attention to preferred communication styles and mitigating misunderstandings about priorities. Lack of communication may come from a culture of self-reliance, where people don’t feel the need to talk about difficulties or questions they encounter during a project — or, conversely, employees who feel isolated and hesitate to reach out for guidance or input. By encouraging people to communicate with each other, you’ll be able to avoid conflicts that turn minor details into larger issues.

3. Encourage Growth

No one enjoys conflict, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come out the other side of some disagreements a better person. Diverse work groups — ones that include men, women, and people from various backgrounds and expertise — are more likely to argue with each other and give rise to more conflicts, but also lead to higher productivity and increased innovation and creativity. While arguments aren’t always pleasant at the time, managers need to acknowledge when they can be beneficial, and recognize when to intervene, or not.

4. Make it Actionable

Conflict doesn’t arise in a vacuum. In order to overcome conflict, a resolution must be reached, and in doing so, inefficiencies or problematic behaviors are brought to light. Creating a plan of action is an effective way to avoid future conflict, streamline processes, and identify room for improvement. By turning conflict into a productive action plan, the team comes away from the experience with a more positive effect, strengthening both dynamic and workflow.

5. Implement Conflict Resolution Training

Conflict resolution training is a valued skill any employee can learn. It helps to:

  • reassess their position and why they’re conflicted
  • understand someone else’s viewpoint
  • proactively find ways to solve a problem
  • come to an agreement with the other party

By implementing conflict resolution training in your workplace, employees will be more likely to resolve issues on their own. This also means conflict is resolved more quickly, allowing for higher productivity.

As long as people work together, there will be conflict. It’s not always avoidable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce it and encourage working through the conflict, or embrace it when you need to. Managing conflict in the workplace will promote more positive company culture and increase productivity.

This article was originally published on the ClearCompany Blog.

About Sara Pollock:    
As the head of the Marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany’s message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible. ClearCompany offer ClearText which will help recruiters get their message across easily and connect with your candidates conveniently, capturing text conversations on the candidate’s profile for a comprehensive view to help your recruiters find the best-qualified candidates. 

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