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When people from diverse backgrounds, ages, races, and cultures, work together, conflicts are bound to happen. Effective conflict management is the way of managing disputes in fair and rational manner, keeping individual and business interests in mind.
Because people aren't perfect and relationships are messy, we all need to learn how to resolve conflicts.
— John Maxwell
Conflict management styles differ based on severity, people involved, and type of conflict. Disputes can happen between superiors and subordinates, between an employee and client, or between colleagues. Each conflict has a different priority level and calls for a specific approach.
According to a report published by Harvard Law School, workplace conflicts can be of three types. Task conflict, relationship conflict, and value conflict.
Disagreements that are strictly related to work like as assignments, schedules, business policies, and rewards, are called task conflicts. These are easier to resolve if the management practices, open communication and encourage feedback.
Relationship conflict arises when two people do not get along due to differences in their personalities. They can be sorted out by finding something to agree on and addressing the root cause of the tension.
Value conflicts are the hardest to resolve as they stem from deep-rooted moral, religious, and ethical beliefs. Most people form a belief system at a young age and are inflexible in accepting opposing views. With an open mind and a tolerant attitude, value-based conflicts can be resolved.
Arrange for a meeting with conflicting parties, preferably one on one. Let them explain their side of the story in detail. Don't assume and prejudge.
The employees can sense if the management's only agenda is to quickly resolve the issue and move on. Ask genuine questions to dig deeper into their feelings, viewpoints, and desired outcomes to make them feel understood and supported.
Identify a suitable approach depending on the type of conflict, priority level, and how it can impact the organization.
After clearly understanding the matter and type of conflict, start brainstorming possible solutions. Discuss each solution rationally, also collaborate with conflicting parties to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Make sure both parties fully understand the terms of settlement and have reconciled cordially before closing the meeting.
Have frequent check-ins with the concerned parties and obtain their feedback to ensure that the conflict doesn't resurface and there aren't any lingering feelings of resentment.
It's hard to reach a consensus between two conflicting parties and find a win-win situation. But this approach works when teamwork and relationships get priority. It also involves negotiation and integration of ideas.
This approach is functional when disputed parties are unwilling to cooperate and are assertive. A competitive attitude is good with other organizations, not within a team or company; it brings frustration and leads to bitter professional relationships.
This style works in conflicts that are insignificant in terms of performance and productivity. For example, if there are more significant issues, the management might decide to sidestep a minor dispute between two employees for a later period.
When one party willingly sacrifices to let others have their way, it's called following an accommodating approach. It may bring peace at present but might cause resentment later on.
Conflicting parties compromise to some extent and find a middle ground by following a compromising approach.
Healthy work environment - Unresolved issues lead to discontent and unfavorable work environments. Cordial relationships between employees will enable them to focus and perform better.
New Insights- Discussion and brainstorming on varied viewpoints will equip the management to innovate new strategies and better ideas.
Higher productivity- Disputes hinder workflow; hence they should be resolved in time for steady business operations and stable productivity.
Resolving conflicts is one of the many challenges faced by management on a day-to-day basis. Disagreements happen when people have conflicting ideas and beliefs. Healthy conflicts generate innovative ideas and promote collaboration. Unhealthy conflicts create negativity and stress and may also lead to absenteeism.
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