Anyone who grew up with a sibling is no stranger to conflict. In fact, sibling rivalry can benefit one from an early age to develop an effective conflict management strategy. Conflict in itself can be healthy, it is how one responds to conflict that can cause harm. We just need to change the way we look at conflict in the workplace. I actually encourage my team not to avoid conflict nor let it fester as the result can be detrimental. There are rules of engagement of cause and respect is key.
There are various causes of conflict in the workplace including but not limited to:
- Difference in personalities, background (culture), or religion
- Poor Communication
- Multigenerational differences (age)
- Departmental Conflict
- Scarcity of resources
Although our differences may be a source of conflict, we need to always remember the beauty and advantages of diversity in the workplace and cherish the benefits of a diversified team. A little competition is also healthy as long as team members are not in competition with each other but are rather competitive. There is a difference between the two.
When conflict becomes personal, however, it is critical to nip it in the bud, and here is how.
- Seek to understand before you seek to be understood
- Control your biases/prejudices
- Separate fact from feeling
- Do not blame or point fingers
- When you are wrong, apologise
If team members fail to resolve their conflict on their own management should step in and there are 5 conflict management strategies they can use.
- Mediation or
Conflict is a valuable component of a healthy team. It brings the opportunity to view things differently and forces teams to be innovative and learn to collaborate. Without conflict, it is hard to grow.
Forbes published a great article titled Supporting Healthy Conflict In The Workplace which you can read here.