Conflict isn’t all bad. It’s a dated idea that good leaders manage to avoid workplace conflict at all costs. Not only is that a difficult feat–it’s probably unrealistic. While prevention is better, a more feasible solution is to turn conflict into an opportunity to practice professionalism and be productive. However, you’re unlikely to achieve that if you don’t know how to prevent them from escalating.
It’s the workplace disputes that get of hand, which usually cause the most trouble. Once more people are involved, and management is rattled, teams are split, and productivity comes to a screeching halt. The first step to turning conflict into opportunity is understanding how you could be adding to the problem.
No Code of Conduct
Every organization, whether public or private, needs to have a code of conduct. This is the written document that details your company’s mission, principles, and values, which are the basis for the standard of professional conduct you enforce. When your company values are clear, and your leadership team aptly disseminate them to the rest of your employees, everyone will work with the knowledge of what’s expected of them. They’ll know how you want them to behave and what happens if they do not meet the standards you’ve set.
More importantly, when conflicts arise, it will be easier to measure and judge their actions. With clear benchmarks to assess rights and wrongs, you curtail potentially lengthy arguments that worsen the conflict and arrive at a resolution faster.
No Established Protocols
Your employees rely on protocols to guide them, particularly when bringing conflicts to your management’s attention. When you don’t have an existing set of protocols to resolve these conflicts, you risk confounding the problem rather than dissolving it.
Make it clear whom they can approach with their problems. Do they go to their direct supervisor or visit human resources? How is your leadership team supposed to respond to these problems? Deescalating workplace conflict is easier when you’re prepared to tackle them immediately and fairly.
When do you resolve the matters amongst yourselves, and when do you seek employment law mediation? Sometimes, conflicts are handled better by outsiders like mediators. They’ll have a neutral approach to the parties involved, which will make any resolution as impartial as possible. It will also prevent conflicts from escalating to legal cases that can prompt unnecessary costs on the company’s behalf.
No Healthy Work Culture
If your work culture promotes proper communication and professionalism, it’s unlikely that anybody who bears a grudge against their colleagues will escalate matters. On the other hand, a surrounding that encourages disputes is a breeding ground for trouble.
It matters that you create a healthy work culture where people practice peaceful relations, even when they disagree. Cultivating such an environment takes time, effort, and budget, but it’s an investment that will save you from future losses.
Tackle the Real Problem
The best solutions start with a good understanding of the problem, which is often not the workplace conflict itself, but the company’s inability to handle it. Polish your code of conduct, establish clear protocols, and create a healthy work environment for everyone. Without further promptings to escalate problems, your employees shouldn’t feel the need to worsen something that can easily be resolved.