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Managing conflict and challenging conversations

Posted On: 08/02/2019

Believing that every working day is going to run smoothly is wishful thinking.  Conflict in the workplace is inevitable and when it rears its ugly head it mustn’t be ignored. Resolving conflict quickly is possible and the learnings you can take from it will strengthen the future of your company.  

What Causes Conflict?

We’ve listed below the most common reasons for conflict in the workplace. 

Prevention and Intervention

An effective manager holds regular updates with team members giving them the opportunity to speak freely about how they are feeling.  These updates will enable you to get to know your workforce well and to recognise when someone is simply having an ‘off-day’.

Continually observe behaviours for signs of conflict.  The sooner you see the signs, the sooner you can act and resolve the issue.

Conflict Management

It is the responsibility of the management team to handle confrontations tactfully and constructively through effective communication.  It is crucial that the manager dealing with conflict understands the perception one individual has about the other.  This perception can only be fully understood through listening, talking, observing and daily interaction.

Addressing The Issue

  1. As soon as conflict or tension has been observed a manager should step in quickly to avoid the situation escalating into accusations of bullying or harassment.
  2. Holding initial separate conversations with all parties involved is best practice. This will allow the manager to fully investigate and understand the situation and to identify the underlying causes.  Even at this early stage it is key to try to identify what preventative or corrective measures are needed for a quick resolve.
  3. Understand your role as an intermediary and what is expected of you.
  4. Draw up an action plan with timescales. Stick to this until a solution has been found.
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of a quiet informal discussion with the individuals. If, after investigation, the issue appears minor simply giving all parties time to air their concerns and express their feelings can have effective results.
  6. Every discussion should take place in a quiet area with no distractions.
  7. The focus must remain on the facts and not the personalities of the individuals involved.
  8. Understand company policies concerning grievance, conflict and diversity.
  9. Know when and how to gather information such as absence records. 
  10. During all discussions distinguish what the individuals want and why they want it. This will help all parties reach a sustainable agreement.

Effective Communication Style

For every conversation a manager must remain focussed and treat the issue with great sensitivity and empathy.

When To Get External Help

Conflict management can test even the most experienced managers.  When disputes aren’t resolving as quickly as a company would like the ripples of negativity can have a disastrous impact.

Bringing in an external team of professionals has many advantages as they are not emotionally involved and will be able to take a completely objective, unbiased approach.

We’re Here To Help

If you would like to discuss how we can support you through difficult situations or help you prepare an Employment Engagement Survey to measure how satisfied your workforce are please call us on 0161 941 2426.

Get In Touch

What Our Clients Say

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