The workplace should be an environment to utilise skills and let innovation flow, which it usually is. However, many businesses continue to sacrifice precious time trying to deal with conflicts between staff. What should be a sanctuary for business ideas and hard work soon becomes a white-collar front line where backhanded tactics and insults are “grenaded” across departments. In fact, research on the consequences of workplace conflict has suggested to cost more than 200 million dollars in the US and companies spend almost three hours per week on average trying to make peace. Without reaching for your calculator that is a whopping 156 business hours lost every year!
The costs of workplace conflicts are evident and soon add up over time. This makes it even more crucial that businesses find efficient ways and techniques to deal with conflict – or prevent it from arising altogether. There are different ways that this can be done and while some may take shape regarding the type of conflict being dealt with, there are some fundamental principles that can underpin successful resolutions and conflict prevention. Is your business following these recommendations? Can you do better? Read on to uncover the best ways to deal with workplace conflict, as a business.
Is conflict that bad?
After discussing just how much time and energy is being wasted by businesses trying to resolve workplace conflict, it would seem contradictory to tell you that conflict is not all bad news. If there is an outbreak of disagreement and accusations in your business, people taking cover below their desks is not always a sight that business owners should shudder at. This comes from the horse’s mouth as the same study by CPP Global that was referenced above found that 75% of workers felt that resolved conflict led to a better end goal.
They believed this because a greater understanding of everyone’s position was realised through conflict. This does not mean you can leave conflict to materialise until it explodes into innovation, but you can harness and use it to seek clarity and long-term solutions between staff by acting upon it.
It starts with leaders
Dealing with conflict does not start at the point when it arises. It starts in your hiring process. Hiring people and managers with leadership qualities will go a long way to tackling conflict head-on when it does arise. The best leaders are more likely to not shy away from a heated argument between staff and they are much more likely to step in and offer resolutions with exceptional soft skills. Leaders offer the best way to harness conflict and use it to an advantage, whereas burying heads in the sand when conflict is present will not transform it into positive outcomes.
Developing HR skills
Conflict can arise in any department and which is one reason why having leaders throughout the business can be a positive thing. Nevertheless, conflict for most businesses is signposted to the Human Resources department. These groups of people need to be prepared for conflict and know what to do when complaints are made. Helping your HR team to develop these skills is of paramount importance and one of the best ways to do that is through training. Lots of businesses choose to enrol staff into online HR courses as this allows them to continue in employment while developing relevant skills at the same time.
To help your leaders and HR staff manage conflict effectively, businesses need to support their decisions by implementing effective procedures. This not only gives everyone involved a fair chance to be heard, but it also supports the staff that are trying to negotiate with the disgruntled parties. Procedure is also important for legal reasons as some conflicts that do not get resolved may escalate to higher authorities, namely allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and unfair dismissal.
In a nutshell
Here we have identified three ways to embrace and manage conflict in your workplace. We’ve avoided the endless list of posts floating on the internet that tell you what to do when conflict arises by stepping back from the issue and providing holistic ways that let you manage and deal with staff disagreements as a business. Implement them to create better working relationships, a fruitful working atmosphere – and better results!