The perfect workplace is one where no conflict exists. However, this is impossible to achieve. Within a workplace, we have to deal with various people and people have moods, interests and personalities and it is simply not realistic to believe that this will never cause conflict.
This is why it is so important for managers to understand the basics of conflict resolution. They have to be ready to manage workplace relationships in such a way that conflict does not get out of hand. But how is this done? Let’s first take a look at why conflict exists in the workplace.
The Everything DiSC Workplace Profile can be used with everyone in an organization, regardless of title or role, to build more effective relationships, improve the quality of any workplace, and aid in conflict resolution. Participants discover their DiSC Style and learn how they affect workplace priorities and relationships.
The Cornerstone Principles of the Everything DiSC Workplace are:
- All DiSC Styles and priorities are equally valuable and everyone is a blend of all four styles (D, i, S, C)
- Your work style is also influenced by other factors such as experiences, education, and maturity
- Understanding yourself better is the first step to becoming more effective when working with others
- Learning about other people’s DiSC Style can help you understand their priorities and how they may differ from your own
- You can improve the quality of your workplace by using DiSC to build more effective relationships
The Everything DiSC Workplace Profile provides individuals and managers with a simple, direct way to understand the different fears that drive much of the conflict and resistance around them. With DiSC, managers learn their style of handling conflict and recognize how their employees handle conflict differently than they do. DiSC participants learn how and why different people become threatened and discover skills for relating more effectively with people of all styles.
Why Conflict Exists
Companies all over the world do everything they can to make sure their employees feel engaged in their workplace and have a good work-life balance. They have processes such as supervisions and appraisals as well as many other tools to ensure people are able to get rid of stresses and figure out ways to move forward. However, for all the best intentions, conflict continues to exist. The reality is that it is impossible to get everybody to agree on the same thing every time, and this is what causes conflict. By being realistic about that, resolving the issue becomes a lot easier to manage.
“As a manager, it is important to be able to identify and to understand the varying levels of conflicts and how these levels are manifested in different ways. An early sign of conflict is that “nagging feeling” or tension you feel, indicating that something is brewing under the surface. Pay attention to non-verbal behaviours such as crossed-arms, eyes lowered or someone sitting back or away from you or the group.” Workplaces that Work – Conflict at Work
Generally, conflict can be organized in different categories. There are values conflicts, power conflicts, economic conflicts, organizational conflicts, interpersonal conflicts and environmental conflicts. Understanding these and being able to recognize the signs will help you resolve any issues that are there in a supportive manner.
Let’s take a look at some of the main factors you will have to understand.
Trust and Honesty
All relationships should be based on trust, and trust is only built by always being honest. This is a two-way street: employees need to know that they can count on their managers to be truthful and honest, and also the other way around. A workplace without the essential elements of trust and honesty is one where a lot of workplace conflict will take place.
“When an employee asks a manager for an answer, the manager should answer with honesty; if not, the manager’s reputation will likely suffer. Trust and honesty are important in manager-employee relationships and almost always those between peers.” Elements of Effective Workplace Relationships
As stated, it would be impossible to be in a workplace where no conflict exists. So why is conflict so pervasive, enduring and difficult? One of primary reasons is that we all have a natural instinct to see only one side of an issue—our own. All employees have a degree of responsibility in terms of resolving conflict, but none more so than the managers, particularly once a conflict starts to escalate and they become aware of it. Leaders are responsible for creating a workplace in which everybody feels respected and worthy. Once a conflict occurs, this means a situation has developed in which people no longer feel this respect, and it becomes the responsibility of the manager or leader to make sure it is resolved. One of the main things that a manager should remember is that a conflict will never just go away by itself.
“An unresolved conflict or interpersonal disagreement festers just under the surface in your work environment. It burbles to the surface whenever enabled, and always at the worst possible moment. This, too, shall pass, is not an option – ever.” Workplace Conflict Resolution – Avoid These Actions in Effective Conflict Resolution
In order to manage workplace relationships, the key is to have excellent lines of communication. We always hear about how important communication actually is, but it is incredibly difficult to get it right. This is because there are many factors that come into play when we think of communication, including tone of voice, body language and the personality of not just the receiver, but also the deliverer of the communication. However, the focus should always be on making sure that the lines of communication stay open.
“Oftentimes conflicts can be avoided or solved rather quickly if each party would take the time to fully listen to what the other party has to say rather than having to express their opinion first and then occupy their mind by thinking of what else they want to say.”
How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace – Handling Conflict Successfully Can Help to Create a Stronger Bond
People may come across as difficult because they handle conflict differently than we do. Others’ approaches to conflict can often seem counterproductive, confusing or even bizarre. Working with these difficult people can be one of a manager’s biggest headache. Particularly as a manager, if it is your role to resolve a conflict between two others, you have to be able to enter the discussion without any pre-conceived ideas. You must be respectful and listen to both parties before coming up with a plan of mediation between the different sides. Communication is about listening as much as it is about speaking, so you really have to take the time to hear what is being said, including what is being said between the lines.
Styles of Conflict Resolution
There are different styles recognized within conflict resolution. There are two dimensions with resolution and these are assertiveness and cooperativeness. Within these, behaviors come to the forefront, which are accommodating, competing, collaborating, avoiding and compromising. As a manager, you must understand these different issues not just about those around you, but also your own. If you are, for instance, someone who is accommodating, you may find it very difficult to make sure everybody’s needs are met. On the other hand, it does also demonstrate that there are potentially better ways out there. Very often, good managers have a collaborative style, instead.
“The collaborating style is both assertive and cooperative. The goal of this stance is to find a win-win situation. Typically this mode is concerned with finding creative solutions to issues that satisfy both individual’s concerns. Learning, listening and attending to both the organizational and personal issues are addressed with this conflict style.” Workplaces that Work – Conflict at Work
Achieving this style and getting the right results through this style, however, takes a lot of time and a lot of energy, something we are often in short supply of. However, it should be the style to aim for in order to have a harmonious workplace.