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How Can Leaders Resolve Different Types of Workplace Conflicts Effectively?

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • May 12, 2022

conflict management

Most people do not face conflict well. For those in leadership positions, conflict management is a soft skill essential to ensure the work environment is a comfortable place for everyone.

Learning to embrace conflict for the better by using lessons that evolve from conflicting ideas is a skill within itself. Understanding the types of conflicts that can arise and how to manage them appropriately can help make it a more acceptable place of work.

Types of Conflicts in the Workplace

As every person has their concept of how a job should be done, workplace conflicts are inevitable. Through poor or lack of communication, misinterpretations and resistance can evolve. Below, we look at the four most common types of conflict in the workplace.

Task Dependency

A task dependency conflict refers to a situation wherein two or more people disagree on how to perform a task based on differing behaviours, attitudes, or needs. Work projects often cause task conflicts, but everyday duties are the most common task dependency conflicts.

Differences in Employee Work Style

Part of conflict management is appreciating the various work styles of each employee and how to use these preferences together. This difference includes those who are task-oriented and those who are people-oriented. Part of leadership conflict training requires providing avenues for everyone to gain respect for individual work styles.

Personality and Discrimination

Personality clashes are often the most significant cause of conflict in the workplace. The idea is not to let these personalities overshadow each individual’s ability to get the job done right. It is important to be aware of age, race, gender, and ethnicity discrimination. There is no discrimination that warrants tolerability.

Creative Idea Conflict

As every person has their ideas, particularly with a specific project, two employees working together can usually come to a compromise. When working in a team, creative idea conflicts can arise quickly when compromises aren’t made.

What Is Conflict Resolution in the Workplace?

Conflict resolution is when two or more people resolve a dispute. Conflict resolution is intended to create a better working environment for the parties involved and the other employees, regardless of their level of employment.

It’s important to resolve conflict in the workplace. What starts as a task or personality conflict can grow into a passive-aggressive environment that affects everyone in the workplace. Productivity goes down, sick days increase, and soon your business has a high staff turnover, all from what started with a few people “butting heads”.

Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace

Thankfully there is a solution. Conflict resolution in the workplace is an essential fundamental tool to address issues and create a better working environment for everyone. Knowing the steps for an agreeable conflict resolution is key.

Conflict Resolution Strategies for the WorkplaceDo Not Ignore Employee Conflict

One of the major strategies to resolve conflict in the workplace is not to ignore it. Without immediate and proper action, the conflict can escalate quickly. It is best to address any issues among your employees at first notice.

Identify the Exact Conflict Issue

Once you are aware of a situation, the first step is to identify the parties involved. This awareness starts with meeting individually with the people involved to seek the truth behind the conflict. Keep asking questions until you and those affected understand the actual meaning behind the conflict.

Change the Environment

By changing the environment, cooler heads may prevail. It may not be effective to conduct these sensitive meetings within the office setting. Physically removing the conflicting parties from the peeping eyes and ears of others can help make a more comfortable environment and allow each person to feel heard in their complaints.

Communicate to Fix Conflicts

Meeting each person involved in the conflict individually creates an atmosphere where you become the mediator, not the superior. The next step is to bring those involved together to voice their concerns and uncover any miscommunications.

Use Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism has a significant role in creating conflict resolution strategies. As a mediator for conflict resolutions, it is vital to provide constructive criticism. Focus on the positive aspects of the conflict. If one person has a conflict, chances are other employees share the sentiment.

Don’t Intimidate and Act Decisively

Presenting a domineering approach will not resolve the matter but can cause more problems. In a leadership role, you want to provide a safe atmosphere for employees to be able to approach you in such situations. Take the information presented to you and act decisively.

Offer Guidance

Whether the conflict at hand presents a simple solution or requires time and effort on the parts of the parties involved, be sure to offer guidance to everyone. Your job as an authoritative figure is to remain neutral while keeping your company’s productivity in mind.

Find the Solution

A conflict resolution can only come once everyone has had a chance to speak their mind and come to an understanding of each other’s position. Each individual must acknowledge and agree to work towards the resolution.

Monitor and Follow Up on the Conflict

Part of managing conflict in the workplace is continuously monitoring the resolution’s success. This examination is vital where both parties agree to undergo extra steps to meet the expectations of the solution. Discuss the situation with the involved parties regularly to ensure it was the right solution.

How The Soft Skills Group Can Help with Conflict Resolution in the Workplace?

Addressing and resolving conflict in the workplace can be an overwhelming and time-consuming experience for everyone involved. The expert team at The Soft Skills Group can provide training and learning solutions for your employee-based environment.

We offer programs for those in the private and public corporation sectors, as well as for educational and government organizations. Our in-person and virtual workshops are customized specifically for your company and your timeline. Contact us today to learn more or to reserve your spot!

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More