Managing Workplace Conflict: Training Every Business Could Benefit From

Workplace conflict is an inevitable aspect of workplace culture. Whenever people of different backgrounds and working styles are brought together, there is likely to be some friction. The good news is that not all conflict is bad and some is actually good for a company.

This is because minor workplace conflict between employees (and between employees and management) can lead to new understandings about individuals and work styles and bring forth new ideas that can move the business forward -- so long as that conflict is attended to in a positive and mature manner. The following is a look at some of the most common causes of workplace conflict and the type of training every business can benefit from to better assist their employees overcome their conflict and transform it into something positive:

Work Style Conflict: A Common Problem that can be Resolved

Work Style Conflict. Each employee has a unique background, including education and training. During their path to your business, each employee has molded their own working style and methodology that works for them. Once hired, most employees are able to adapt their styles to the given work environment and find their pace.

However, sometimes when two employees are thrown into a project together, or if one has to rely on another's work before they can begin, a work style conflict may arise. For example, new hire Jane is added to accounting, a division where before only Joe worked.

Jane is a proficient worker but tends to complete big projects in spurts, sometimes waiting until just before a deadline to get things finished. This makes Joe uncomfortable as he is more of a steady worker and likes to plans out things well before they are due. He complains that he feels as though he can't rely on Jane.

With this and similar types of workplace conflict, the first step is having the two employees meet with a mediator to talk openly of their frustrations. Managers should also have employees undergo training where they can better understand each individual's style of working.

If possible, managers should also try to re-organize the structure of allocated work so that each team member can work at the style that makes them most productive without infringing on others' work.

When Problems and Misunderstandings Involve Management

Leadership Conflict. Just as individuals have different ways of managing their personal work, workplace leaders often have different styles of leadership in how they implement their managing power. Some leaders tend to be direct but allow employee independence while others tend to be more dictatorial and insist on being hands-on. Whenever a new leader is hired or promoted for a team, there tends to be at least some friction as employees find themselves suddenly forced to adapt to unanticipated changes.

For example, sales manager Ann was with a given company for five years and team members were used to her being mostly hands-off so long as reps made their numbers and came to her first with concerns. But when Ann was promoted and new hire Jim placed into the position, things changed and reps are now complaining about his more involved leadership style and public call-out of perceived mistakes.

As before, mediation can be extremely useful for any employees frustrated about the change of leadership. With this type of abrupt leadership style change, it's common, when emotions are not hashed out, for employees to get angry and feel fatalistic, believing there is no way to resolve the existing conflict.

It's important to bring in outside guidance to help hash out those frustrations, allow time for things to calm down, and approach the situation with reason and understanding. While employees, and indeed all working individuals, must learn to work under different styles of leaders and leadership hierarchies, it's important to be patient and for everyone to avoid using coercion or intimidation techniques ('you'll be fired if --' or 'I'll quit unless --') to resolve such a problem.

Need Help? Get Formal Training

In essence, miscommunication is the root problem of both the two above types of workplace conflicts as the issue comes down with employees not being able to understand the others' perspective and being unable to resolve their difference. Formal training programs for how to manage workplace conflicts focus on communication and teach employees how to best communicate their frustrations and how to collaborate with others to work out those differences.

Formal training in conflict resolution can have an outstanding impact across a given department. The ability to quickly resolve issues instead of letting them seethe often times boosts productivity and improves overall morale for a happier, more effective team. This can improve the bottom line and can greatly assist businesses retain their top employees. Contact Infotec today for more information about how to enroll your team into a positive formal training program on conflict resolution.

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