Happening People recently conducted a survey via social media to understand how conflict in the work place has affected Australian workers and found that almost 60% of those surveyed have left their job due to conflict – a staggering figure.
This has a major impact on an organisation with increases in recruitment costs, lost team productivity, loss of talent and organisational knowledge not to mention the impact on the individual with both financial and emotional toll. It can hit everyone’s bottom line.
We would like to think that organisations and the people in it are adept at managing conflict; the reality is that some work cultures seemingly invite conflict as a natural part of a competitive office culture while others detest it but fail to address the conflict appropriately.
In an aid to bring some clarity to the waters of conflict in the workplace Happening People offer you our Top 5 on Managing Yourself When Conflict Arises
- Understand how conflict arises
Conflict arises when one or more parties push their desires and outcomes onto another or others without taking into account the preferred outcomes of others. In addressing the conflict not only is it the behaviours that need to be examined but also the feelings that arise from the conflict. It is these feelings that can do damage to the relationship and team effectiveness long term. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of knowing what you want, working to uncover and understand what others want and work to a best possible organisational outcome.
- Prepare for the discussion
Depending on previous experience, personality and upbringing addressing conflict can be a challenging prospect, fighting it out or fleeing will only cause alienation and aggressive or passive aggressive behaviours. To ensure that as little damage is inflicted on the relationship in crisis it is important to approach the conflict with careful planning, sensitivity and self-control. Objectively reflect on what has come to pass, do not assume the other party is completely at fault, or assume what they think or feel and work out how best to approach the other party.
- Have the tough conversation
It’s tempting at this point to talk yourself into believing that ‘less said, soonest mended’. Sure, that is an option but experience shows that it is a temporary Band-Aid to the problem and it will come back and when it does it’s usually a much larger issue. So dig deep, approach the discussion with considered assertiveness rather than a hasty reaction, treat the other party with respect, express your opinion and allow others to have theirs. Go into the conversation to explore the situation rather than judge it.
- Set guidelines and boundaries around behaviours
After having the tough conversation there is often a desire to quickly move on to more pleasant things. To truly address the situation and strive for peace and agreement, guidelines and boundaries need to be firmly established. This is the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the new agreement. In a work context it could be ‘We will talk face-to-face when we have a problem rather than hide behind our emails.’ Or it could be ‘We will support each other in the weekly team meeting instead of taking shots at each other.’
- Seek Help
If you believe that the conflict arises due to the culture of the workplace it might be worth addressing this with your Manager and your Human Resources Department. By discussing the nature of the conflict you may gain further insight into better managing the conflict and other times you may realise that your tolerance for conflict might be higher or lower than the department or organisation you are with.
Having too many farewell parties for all the wrong reasons? It’s ok, Happening People are in the business of helping you hang-on to your people. Call Happening People on 1800 68 67 69 or go to www.happeningpeople.com