One trait shared by great business leaders is their ability to identify, fine-tune, and implement quick and effective resolutions to workplace conflicts. Unfortunately, many senior professionals are crippled by a fear of confrontation, falling back on diversions or simply ignoring elephants in the room. To ensure this inertia doesn’t become too damaging to the organisation, here are some effective conflict resolution strategies to implement today:
Foster a culture of feedback
Open the floor to frequent, constructive feedback from every area of your business, and you’ll encourage a much greater degree of transparency. When inconvenient truths come to light gradually and healthily, it will foster a much greater sense of understanding and camaraderie, grinding down the risk of any future conflict. Furthermore, opening the floor to open, honest dialogue will give employees a clear message that their opinions are valued by the higher-ups, thereby helping their level of engagement.
Work efficiently, but don’t jump to conclusions
Of course, you should try to nip any conflict in the bud by working swiftly to find a solution. However, it’s important not to jump to conclusions before you understand the situation fully. Assume the positive intent of all parties involved to foster an attitude that will help to diffuse the situation. It’s also important to be mindful of what you say, and keep yourself from becoming the source of further conflict. Many effective leaders slip up here, especially in fast-paced work environments. However, simply being careful about your choice of words can have a significant, positive effect on your conflict resolution.
Don’t rely on email too much
Email is the go-to tool for many leaders who shrink away from conflict, and an easy shield to hide behind. If this sounds all too familiar, try to get more confident when managing uncomfortable conversations. The more daunting the situation is, the more important it is to deal with it in person. If you keep falling back on emails to keep yourself from facing the situation head-on, you’ll simply stimulate the kind of attitudes that causes existing conflicts to turn even worse. The most efficient and effective way to manage conflict calls for face-to-face communication, acute awareness of the facts and an appreciation of the motivation for all involved in it.
Remember: conflict can be used constructively and change cannot be delivered without it!