Disagreements or conflicts might occur in workplaces due to internal misunderstandings. Hence, having people in the organisation who how to manage conflict is important. It improves employees’ productivity, work efficiency and client experiences.
Every company must introduce conflict management training. It will help identify and resolve conflicts or disputes easily. In short, conflict management provides employers and employees with a way that will leave them reasonably satisfied.
So, who will resolve the conflicts or disagreements? Any skilled person in the organisation can handle workplace conflicts. The person must act as a mediator and provide an effective idea to find a solution.
The ability to resolve office conflicts is considered a leadership quality. People who can identify or manage disagreements between employees are valued in every company. They often offer a different perspective on conflict resolution in the workplace.
Let’s learn more about conflict management and its different types:
What are the Common Reasons for Workplace Conflicts?
You must know the reasons why workplace conflict occurs before knowing its type. Different employee perspectives are the common cause of the disagreement. Conflicts in organisations can arise if any employee needs to communicate with others properly.
So, miscommunication or poor communication skills are another reason for workplace conflicts.
Here are the other causes of conflicts or disagreements in an organisation:
- Inadequate training
- Lack of equal work opportunities
- Unclear job roles
- Mistreatment with the workers or staff
- Significant changes to the pay systems
- Poor management and work environment
- Unrealistic needs or expectations
- Power dynamics
- A sudden increase in workload
What are the Different Conflict Management Strategies Used in Workplaces
Different companies use different methods to manage conflicts in the workplace. Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, two conflict pioneers, developed a model to deal with workplace conflicts quickly. Based on the model, there are 5 conflict management methods which any company, regardless of its size, can use:
You can avoid any conflict in your workplace by avoiding it. This method involves ignoring the problem that hinders your productivity in the office. Don’t engage in the conflict, and it will help you to prevent the problem.
There are situations when avoiding workplace conflicts can be the best solution. For instance, if you don’t have a valid solution to solve the issue, consider avoiding the conflict. Otherwise, you can wait for the opposing party for the confrontation.
However, avoiding conflict might be more difficult than facing it in your workplace. It can also develop the problem between the disagreeing parties. When you avoid conflicts or disagreements, it can never be resolved.
Accommodating office conflicts have a higher cooperation level and lower assertiveness. How does this conflict management work? The conflicting party must resolve the disagreement by sacrificing their desires for the other party.
Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann’s conflict management will be beneficial when the office conflict is hard to resolve. It will help the two parties to move on quickly from the office conflicts and focus on their work.
Accommodation might not be suitable for all conflict resolutions. So, you must look for other ways to resolve workplace disagreements to solve the matter.
Collaboration is an effective conflict management method that requires high cooperation from the involved parties. Employees who started the conflict must work together to find a respectful solution. The resolution might benefit two parties involved in the office conflicts.
When will the collaborating method be useful? It will be best if you have time to resolve the disagreements in the workplace. Besides, the two parties must have the same job role or power in the organisation. However, choosing another conflict management style will be better if the conflicting parties have different perspectives.
A competitive style involves sacrificing your needs and desires for the other party. This conflict management method is completely the opposite of accommodating. Competing requires high assertiveness and low cooperation from all parties.
Many employees who are engaged in conflicts find this method unacceptable. However, it can apply if you have a higher job rank and must solve a conflict with a low-rank employee. Competing also helps you to resolve workplace disagreements more quickly than other methods.
Compromising doesn’t require high or low assertiveness or cooperation from involved parties. One must provide moderate assertiveness and cooperation to resolve the conflict in this method.
No one must sacrifice their needs and desires when using the compromising method. Everyone gets what they want or desire in this conflict management method.
When should you use the compromising strategy to resolve workplace disputes? This conflict management style can be applied when time is limited. However, due to time constraints, organisations prefer collaborating over compromising.
How to Choose the Best Conflict Management Style for Your Organisation:
Choosing the right strategy to manage office conflicts can sometimes be challenging. For instance, the accommodating or avoiding approach might work well with minor issues. However, you might require an assertive approach, like competing for critical disputes.
Which conflict management method to choose? Try to find out the answers to the following questions:
- How much time or energy is required to resolve the dispute?
- What will happen if both parties don’t fulfil the needs or desires?
- How much do you value the person involved with the conflict?
- What should be the level of cooperation and assertiveness?
- How important is the role of the two conflicting parties in your organisation?
Once you get the answers to these questions, it will help you to decide which style will resolve the office conflicts easily. However, you must take an expert’s help if you fail to choose the right conflict management strategy.
What Happens When Office Conflicts Aren’t Resolved?
Conflicts can occur in the workplace for several reasons. However, if they are not resolved on time, it can lead to negative consequences like depression. Here is what an employee might face if the employer failed to resolve a conflict:
- Passive aggression
- Communication problems
- Low productivity
- Employee turnover
- Low morale
You can keep these problems away by knowing effective conflict management strategies. Here is what an employer must do when a conflict arises:
- Acknowledge the root cause of the problem
- Gather all the required information from both parties
- Set guidelines for employees to minimise the conflicts
- Discuss the matter with the conflicting parties
- Evaluate the situation and use the best approach
Which Type of Skills Required for Conflict Management?
Possessing the right skills is essential to resolve workplace conflicts efficiently. For instance, the person managing the dispute must have great communication skills.
You should talk to the conflicting parties politely, but it should still be convincing to resolve the argument. Avoid discussing the matter behind closed doors. Arrange a group meeting, invite both parties and share your opinion with them.
Besides, the person resolving the conflict shouldn’t make assumptions before listening to both parties. The manager or employer should be impartial to solve the conflict or dispute. Avoid criticism and manage your employees’ stress properly not to make the situation worse.