Even though people typically come into work to get along and be productive – sadly, the workplace can sometimes devolve into a classic episode of The Jerry Springer Show.

Conflict is unavoidable and good leaders must not shrink from it. Instead, they must address team conflicts in ways that produce and effective and long-lasting outcomes.

Conflicts can come from many different places, some of them good and some of them not-so-good. Disagreements that come from competitive tensions, people hold starkly opposing views, issues related to performance or compensation issues can actually be good things for a team. A good leader should be able to hash out these disagreements, and get everyone involved to a place where they are more informed, if not in some agreement.

Disagreements that come out of ego, pride or jealousy are not founded in workplace issues. These conflicts can be pricklier to deal with, and their resolutions are often less rewarding.

Now that we know where conflicts generally come from, let’s take a look at a few way to resolve them.

Resolve minor conflicts before they escalate

Some conflicts arise out of a bad day or stressful period. These situations usually resolve themselves and you don’t need to go into a conflict-resolution mode every time someone loses their cool.

However, some conflicts don’t go away and you need to handle deep-rooted, systemic disputes before they divide your workplace and affect productivity.

Opening up communication

It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: because it’s true. Getting those involved in a conflict to talk through their disagreements in a calm and sensible manner is the most effective way of dealing with workplace disagreements.

Often, a communication breakdown is the issue itself. If someone was misunderstood or didn’t had enough information to do a job, resolve ways to avoid that communication breakdown in the future.

Outline acceptable behavior

As the leader of your team, you need to outline what is expected of your team members. If behaviors, procedures and decision-making processes are clearly defined, there’s less room for miscommunications and different interpretations of vague rules.

After you’ve laid out a well-defined set of expectations, make them known and explain that deviations from the framework will not be acceptable.

Understand both parties motivations

People have personal fears and motivation that can cause them to come in to conflict with their co-workers. If you are able to understand why people think the way they do, you can help them meet their objectives or calm their fear, while diminishing interpersonal conflict

See conflicts as opportunities to grow

Try to arrive at conflict solutions that people can live with and even learn from. Whether its two co-workers understanding each other better or resolving a gap in the decision-making framework, a conflict resolutions should make everyone on your team better in the long run.

If insufficient staffing is causing conflicts on your team, feel free to contact Cornerstone for a customized talent acquisition solution.

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