Among one of the most crucial issues in all organizations, we always mention toxicity. There are a lot of sources for this organizational problem. But one of them we cannot omit is the occurrence of interpersonal conflicts. They might happen due to different reasons, but the sooner they are defined and solved, the better interpersonal communication in the workplace becomes. Let’s analyze the most widespread reasons for the conflicts between colleagues:
– Lack of anti-conflict mechanisms in the company
Each organization, before solving the conflicts that might occur, must have permanent mechanisms in the management to prevent their occurrence. Here, the conflict coaching sessions are really necessary, as they provide employers with the main layouts not to get into a conflict and make the resolution process easier
– Managerial problems and misunderstanding of duties
Lack of management, the systematic one, can lead to serious conflicts in the workplace. When employees don’t understand their duties properly and always face the unreasonable expectations from the company, the conflict potential turns into a time bomb. Poor leadership and lack of effort to lead the team to productive cooperation will certainly result in conflicts.
– Transparency issues
When the employees feel the lack of trust from their boss, they just give it back. So, having no possibility to ask their questions and get the proper answers, in most cases, raises the employees’ dissatisfaction in the whole working process
– Personal clashes
Everybody has a different temper and behaves differently in many situations. The problem is that is the company doesn’t let the employees release their negative potentials through the well-organized pieces of training, they won’t find anybody more appropriate than their coworkers to release it as they reach the boiling point.
We have mentioned 4 main reasons for interpersonal conflicts in the workplace, but it’s pretty obvious that their roots lead to the lack of professional management in the company and the absence of strategies to prevent the occurrence of toxic working relations. Now let’s take a look at the 8 main steps that will help us in the prevention of the conflicts in the workplace:
1. Help employees understand their personality types
We are all people, and some sides of our personality are not clear even for ourselves. To predict conflict situations, organizations should pay attention to the better self-understanding of the employees. Your HR department must take the personality tests of the applicants, and also the existing employees not to simply fulfill the plan, but to reach the priceless information about each and every member of the team. Everybody has a list of situations they cannot tolerate. For example, imagine how helpful can be to the fact, that your middle manager feels uncomfortable when he doesn’t get the instructions or the monthly plan on time. If you can’t resolve the problem of timely delivery of the plan, then you should speak to the manager, reach a common understanding, and define his level of responsibility if the plan is not fulfilled within the deadline due to its late announcement. In this way, you’ll minimize the emotional pressure on your employee, can easily brainstorm the possible solution, and clarify the duties inside the company. Remember that a good leader is the one who’s able to share the responsibility with the employees and make the working conditions clear for everybody.
2. Help employees accept the differences
Of course, when we hire employees, we make sure they share the values of our company and can fit the team. But what if there are some values which are not common for every member of the team and some employees are sensitive to some situations due to their ethnic, religious, or cultural background. You won’t believe how many of the serious issues in international companies can be easily solved within one coaching session. People don’t accept differences, first of all, because they don’t understand the reason for these differences, or simply can’t find the logical definitions for some processes around them. If you’ve noticed that there are such issues inside your team, solve them as soon as possible via logical detailed instructions and collective sessions where everybody can share and explain their cultural values. Cross-cultural organization management has a lot of components, but a common understanding of the surrounding world by the employees is a must you should start with.
3. Fight it or work on it?
Here, we are going to talk about our behavior and reactions toward the existence of the previous two issues. Where shall we fight and make ultimatums, and where shall we celebrate the differences and diversities? When we start building a team, we should understand our green and red lines. In other words, we must understand what types of personalities are welcome in our organization, which ones are not. This is what we define when we think about our corporate values. For example, some companies prefer remote employees and offer a flexible task-based schedule. Others, due to specific features of their activity, follow high standards of timing and discipline. So, here, of course, any opposite can cause productivity problems and lead to a conflict. Ethnically diverse companies are highly effective, but only in the case when the management understands all the possible reasons for misunderstanding between the people with different backgrounds, and create the mechanisms to make the differences accepted inside of the team.
4. Walls or bridges?
Managers should set the language appropriate to minimize the barriers between themselves and employees, the same as between employees. In all the situations the win-win strategy should be foreseen. Avoid using “I” and “you” terminology. It might sound strange, but any kind of separation, even verbally, spoils the relations inside the team. Always tell “we”, and make your employees see themselves as a vital detail in a constantly developing working mechanism. Build bridges between departments, not walls. For example, if the company is big enough to have separate departments who never contact each other directly, make sure your employees know who’s responsible for what parts of the work. Organize short excursions, online or offline, for the employers of one department to see how the work is done in the other ones. Separation employers and not providing them with the clue on how the production, research and devilment, marketing, and client engagement work limits their interest in the company, and their loyalty, as a result. Make sure your employees don’t see each other as rivals or competitors. In the long-term perspective, the competition-based managerial approach leads the company to a more toxic internal environment and can become a reason for most of the conflicts, as employees feel theta nobody appreciate their work and they are constantly under the pressure of being not good enough, or worse than others.
5. Emotion management
We all can face the problem of the inability to control ourselves before we exceed the limits and go off the grid. One of the soft skills each individual needs to develop is emotion management. Here we don’t only mean negative emotions. Getting overexcited without any control over the emotional state can lead to serious burnouts. So, the same as getting angry, getting too happy can lead the employees to annoyment, and provoke conflicts. Yoga, meditation, emotional stability training, and of course, attention to this issue can prevent a lot of conflicts before they start to occur.
6. Anti-conflict skills development
A great deal of problems is caused due to the inability of people to solve the minor issues and conflicts at their beginning. For at least in recent thousand years, everybody talks about how it is important not to learn to listen to each other. Sometimes, the absence of the above-mentioned skills, lack of tolerance, and simple laziness make people unable to listen to each other. Always let your employees know they can always address you as a conflict mentor, but the main condition must be the following: when they explain their position in the conflict, they should be able to explain the position of their opponent. So, in this way, you’ll reduce the percentage of active ignoring among the employees. Constructive talk is another skill everybody must learn. I want this or that not because I like it so, I want it for a certain reason. People inside the team must be able to talk constructively to each other and negotiate. Negotiation is always about the ability to compromise.
7. Anti-conflict strategies development
Is your company ready to reduce tension inside the team? What mechanisms do you have? Who is responsible for this issue? Is he or she qualified enough? Company owners should understand that conflict prevention is a great part of operational activities n the company. So, if they are not able to cope with this duty, or their HR department doesn’t have this one among their duties, an additional specialist should be hired or invited for this role. Human resource managers are responsible not only for the processes of hiring and firing employers. Maintenance of a positive environment at the workplace and conflict prevention are also among their key functions. So, each company has to create an anti-conflict strategy and always check the results of its adaptation.
8. Creating a workflow for conflict resolution
Each company or team due to the combination of tempers in it, the features of the activity, and many other issues will have a certain workflow for the resolution of interpersonal conflicts at work. But the main steps that should be included in the flow are the following:
– Conflict analysis
– Checking the pouts of view of opponents
– Brainstorming possible solutions and ways out
– Mechanisms of choosing the most relevant solution
– Coping with stressful situations and the most effective ways to prevent the conflict for a certain group of individuals
In conclusion, what we need to remember is that it is always easier and more efficient to prevent the conflict than to solve it. So, let’s study ourselves, our team and think about how to keep positive, helping and constructive.
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Lots of love,