Workplace Conflicts and Their Impact
Regardless of which organization you work in, there are always going to be conflicts. However, disputes on their own are not harmful, in fact, many of them can be used to bring about a lot of improvements in a business and its operations. Hence it is how we manage conflicts, and that is an area of concern for managers, team leads, supervisors, and eventually the leadership of a company. When conflicts are kept unresolved, that is where the problem begins.
According to a recent study commissioned by CPP Inc., nearly $359 billion in paid hours or 385 million working days are lost in the US due to workplace conflict every year. In light of this information, let us take a quick look at some of the ways through which leaders can creatively manage conflicts with their teams. As one the 40th President of the USA, Ronald Reagan once said: “Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means”.
How Creative Leaders Can Deploy Effective Conflict Management
There are many times when the actual cause of the conflict is pushed back, and other more complex feelings are given fuel which causes disruption in the workforce. As a leader, you should be quick to address the issue and get to the actual struggle. In many cases, this simply occurs due to missing requirements. This can include supplies or their mismanagement of resources. Instead of playing the blame game, as a leader, you should remove all such bottlenecks so that work can resume as it was. You can take concerns and issues to your attention some other time.
At times conflicts can be baseless, do not have a viable solution, and have little probability of producing fruitful results. When faced with such kinds of disputes, you should quickly identify them and try to avoid any further argument. You can downright be evasive of the entire ordeal and can also use misdirection at this point to divert the attention of your team to something more purposeful and essential. Creating a diversion is not easy. However, you need to bring a new subject into the focus that is attractive and interesting for your team members so that they can forget their initial conflict and become more attentive towards what you just shared with them.
We all have our own bubbles, and we look at the world with a pair of glasses that are of our own making. This limits our approach and the ability to sense the more exceptional picture. What we need is a paradigm shift. This allows us to look at things with a fresh and new perspective that is unbiased by our experience in life so far. This neutral perspective can guide us to look at situations in a brand unique manner that can offer us tremendous insights to which we were blind at first. Hence as a leader, you should always be open to newer forms of thinking and taking a new angle so that your own perspective never limits you.
Creating Win-Win Situations
Conflict is not about winning the argument, there is no trophy, there is no race, and most importantly, there should never be any losers. You win as a team, and you lose as a team. Hence the spirit of working in a group must never be forgotten. Conflicts arise, they come, and they go, however relationships and trusts are nearly impossible to mend once they are hurt or broken. As a leader, your primary objective should always be to consider a win-win situation where neither party loses, and everybody wins. Finding that middle ground can prove to be a lifesaver as broken teams can indeed be a nightmare for managers to handle.
It is always absurd and most detrimental when people start arguing, and this causes the work to be stopped or come to a standstill. Conflicts arise in all shapes and sizes. However, if things get out of hand, which they have a high probability to actually do, you need to make sure everyone is kept in check. You can do this by putting up a no-nonsense attitude and start asking people to follow regulations. The office decorum should never be disturbed, and once things quiet down a bit as everyone gets their cool head on their shoulders, now you can address the problem.
Giving into Demands
You will find two sides of the argument on the outskirts of any conflict, go deeper, and you will find one party making demands while the other party is refusing them bluntly. As a leader, your job is to differentiate what applies to the not-reasonable request. If you find that the situation can be resolved by giving in to demands and that works well for your operations, then you have already got the problem solved. However, this requires solid judgment on your part to identify if the party making demands are justified in their cause and that their request doesn’t hamper the business process in any way.
There are instances where the rules of negotiations do come in handy when solving a conflict. Compromise is no way meant to make you suffer. Instead, you are only willing to make the compromise if it works in your favor. Your job as the leader of your team is to ensure that objectives and goals are never compromised. As long as they stay intact with a compromise at play, then just go with the flow. This will help you come to a quick conclusion, waste less amount of time on useless debacles and get the workflow going at its usual pace.
If two sides of the table are quarrelling then probably it’s a good time to make some effort and help them collaborate with each other. A leader always has a mission, and you need to convey that through your vision. How you see things are crucial because only then you will be able to relay the importance behind your actions on to others. In fact, many leaders often lead by example. So set one. Show them what team spirit is all about and inform them that together they can achieve much higher things. Motivate them and enlighten them to see the bigger picture. This way, they will be encouraged to collaborate with each other, and that in itself ends all conflicts.
Requesting Something in Return
If you want to end the conflict quickly, perhaps one of the best ideas is to offer them a bargain. This way, while you accept their request, they must do something in return for you as well. On your part of the deal you might be required to give something which your team members want or desire, however, if you play smartly, then you can actually find a way to work out the difference and actually make them do their duties as per your own whims and wishes. It all comes down to how smartly you craft the deal with them. On one side, you have to hold your end of the bargain, which again can be manipulated to work in your favor in the end. On the other hand, you can demand from them what you want the most.
Closely tied with the previous point in our list is smoothing. Smoothing is art and skill both. The earlier you master it, the better for you. The process actually starts in your head where you realize the problem that you need to solve. Then comes the part where you must provide incentives to other parties who consider them as worthy and voila! You have just found a way to make everyone happy but the merriest one in the room will always be you because the entire plot which just got played out was none other than your own invention.
Standing Your Ground
Being defiant is perhaps the most difficult of all, but there are situations where there is just no other way around it. Hence as a leader, you need to comprehend the scenario and understand what is at stake. If you find any situation that is unfavorable and can bring harm to the business process, then it is probably time for you to stand your ground. And hold your ground, you will work very firmly. There are always some limitations at the workplace and some lines that should never be crossed. If you find yourself at risk, then it’s time that you tell your comrades to get their act together.
Starting a Competition
A brilliant way to end a conflict is also by starting a competition. This can be looked upon as another act of creating a diversion, but in this case, you set out the parameters yourself. This means you can still achieve your original goals and objectives, but now you just have to play around with words to get your audience interested. Also, keep in mind that when you do start a competition offers some tangible or noteworthy reward to the winner so that everyone gives their best shot at it. If your competition fails to excite your audience, then you better start working on your skills to present and make things more attractive.
If nothing is working out, then taking the responsibility on your own shoulders might get you out of a tight spot. There are chances when the odds are stacked up against your team, and they require a helping hand. During such scenarios, it is best not to push them too hard, especially if you think things can be delivered if you somehow manage to do them on your own. However, this like that last-ditch effort so probably consider this when everything else fails. Conflicts should never be prolonged and if you assess the situation and it can be resolved then taking responsibility is the right decision as any.
There is an end to every story; however, we all seek happy endings. Impossible does arise from the possible, and when things are meant to go south, a resolution to an ongoing conflict can be to withdraw from it. This means you no longer pursue the same goals and objectives as before. You have just moved on and changed the entire situation. Time and resources are valuable to your organization, so if something truly feels that it cannot bear any fruits, then the meaningless debacle should end, and withdrawing from the argument is a good option in such a situation.
We hope this post was able to offer you some great insights as to how you can use your leadership role to bring about resolutions to ongoing debates and conflicts within your workplace. If you have any questions or would like to share your own feedback regarding the topic, then please do and give us a shout out in the comment section below.
Amanda Jerelyn currently works as a Business Manager at Assignment Assistance, where higher education students can request professionals to do my assignment and receive expert help from specialists. During her free time, she likes to dive into socio-political issues happening around the world and how they are impacting lives of many.