Strategy for Facing & Working Through Conflict
by Tara Duggan, Demand Media
Organizations face conflict every day. By establishing strategies for facing and working through conflict, teams work more effectively and efficiently. These strategies also reduce the stress, tension and disruption levels associated with workplace conflict. Instead of ignoring problems, complaining about issues or blaming others, effective business professionals clarify the issue and try to resolve it by negotiating or compromising. When conflicts arise, they follow proven strategies to resolve the problem.
Conflict involves feelings, perceptions and actions. To positively address conflict and resolve issues, managers need to help team members recognize the true issue. The team must agree a problem exists and cooperate to solve it. By calmly and openly discussing a problem to determine its root cause, people have the chance to state their opinions and articulate their views without causing an argument. By listing facts and assumptions, team members present their case. Once conflicts have been resolved or at least mitigated, effective managers encourage team members to let go of anger and resentment left over from the conflict.
Using Active Listening
With active listening at meetings designed to resolve a conflict, team members restate points made by others to demonstrate understanding. They pay full attention to the speaker and resist the temptation to conduct side conversations. By asking clarifying questions, team members ensure they comprehend. They show respect for other people’s views by not interrupting. Additionally, by paraphrasing what the speaker says, other team members show they have heard what was said.
By dividing a large team into smaller groups, effective team managers separate negative alliances and help form new ones. The small groups discuss points of contention, propose solutions, evaluate options and make decisions. They learn to work together to resolve conflict. Using techniques such as force field analysis, teams can analyze issues to determine how to fix them. To conduct a force field analysis, the manager lists the plan to solve a problem in the middle of a page or whiteboard. He lists all the forces for resolution on the left. He lists all the forces against change on the right. By assigning a score to each force, he tallies up a score for each side. A “1” rating represents a weak force and “5” rating represents a strong force. Once a team completes its analysis, it can decide if the approach to solving the problem represents a viable solution. By reducing the strength of forces opposing a resolution and increasing the forces supporting a solution, teams can resolve conflicts more expediently.
Teams can prevent minor disagreements from turning into major problems by dealing with issues immediately. Ignoring problems tends to allow the issues to fester and persist. This solves nothing. By being open, people prevent small issues from disrupting workflow and impacting product or service delivery. Teams should never let professional conflicts become personal attacks on personality or culture. By focusing on actions that people can take as opposed to discussing decisions the team has no control over, people deal with problems constructively and realistically to build and maintain a healthy, productive work environment