The Need for Workplace Conflict Resolution

handling conflict at workToday we have a guest post from Claudia Vandermilt on conflict resolution in the workplace. By the way, if you’re local to the Huntsville area, make sure you check out our April lunch meeting on the very same topic. You can find more information on the NASHRM homepage.

In a perfect workplace, everyone would work together in peace and harmony – there would be no politics, disagreements or differing opinions. However, no such workplace exists; conflict is a normal part of daily life and doing business, as each employee has a different view on the world (which is also what makes a business successful). It\’s also a typical challenge for HR.

HR professionals, like yourself, must work hard to create a work environment that allows employees to grow and thrive, and to work together without tension. It\’s your job to ensure that interoffice conflicts don\’t escalate into interpersonal conflicts, so intervention is necessary. Your HR knowledge, management and mediation skills play a critical role in getting employees back to being productive.

From your perspective, conflict within the workplace should actually be considered neutral territory. Your job is to take into consideration the individual, their concerns and the policies of your organization. While addressing conflict is often not an enjoyable part of being in an HR role, it is an aspect that cannot be ignored.

Conflict Resolution vs. Conflict Avoidance

Determining precisely when to intervene in an employee conflict is tricky, but leaving a conflict totally unresolved can greatly harm productivity and teamwork. Addressing conflict isn\’t easy, but giving employees the opportunity to be heard can have positive results for the staff and organization. In a supportive environment, employees experience higher morale and file fewer formal grievances, as they feel validated and appreciated.

Because most conflicts can be resolved quickly and fairly, it\’s best to address them early. Waiting too long or avoiding the conflict altogether only adds to the tension and could even escalate the grievance.  When faced with the challenge of conflict resolution, consider the pros and cons of intervention:

Pros

    Dealing with conflict resolution results in:

    • Stronger relationships
    • Builds teamwork
    • Diffuses anger
    • Encourages problem solving
    • Re-focuses employees toward results
    • Conveys a positive environment
    • Encourages open communication

      Cons

        Avoiding conflict results in:

        • Defensiveness
        • Discourages productivity and teamwork
        • Damages relationships
        • Creates hidden agendas
        • Drains energy and morale
        • Produces stress and animosity
        • Harbors workplace chaos and negativity

        In your role, you have the ability to create a positive, supportive work environment that opens communication and enables employees to achieve success. Swiftly dealing with workplace conflict creates a harmonious environment that motivates employees and encourages creativity, willingness and loyalty.

        Claudia Vandermilt works in conjunction with Villanova University and University Alliance to promote professional training materials. She\’s currently enrolled in Mastering Organizational Effectiveness through Villanova because there\’s little else more challenging than remaining organized.

        4 things learned from cubicle life

        funny cubicle humorCube-dwellers are made fun of on a daily basis in many forms of media. And while I love reading “Dilbert” cartoons, some of the situations hit pretty close to home. If you\’ve never experienced the glorious experience of cramming yourself into a tiny space filled with office supplies and a back-breaking chair, then you are totally missing out on the fun. (Okay, maybe I\’m lying.) Read on to see a few things that I have learned from living in a cubicle.

        • Sickness-It may completely defy the laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, but a sneeze from twenty feet away can instantly give three people the flu. I have no idea how it works, but it’s universal!
        • Laziness-To me, laziness is spending Saturday afternoon laying on the couch watching TV. I am such an amateur. There are people that I have “worked” with before who never actually did anything work related after walking through the doors.
        • Sucking up-I am pretty much always cordial with my supervisors. Keeping that open, candid relationship healthy is a great way to have work you enjoy. While I think I\’m plenty friendly there are others that would happily staple their own forehead to stay on their boss’ good side. I just want to say to them, “Come on people, it’s your boss, not your spouse.” :-)
        • Weirdness-I have photos and other things decorating my space, and it helps me to feel more relaxed at work. I once worked with a person with a little dog that bobbed his head all day long. No, it\’s not a bobble head doll. It has a little light sensor that helps the pooch to shake his head at you like he knows something you did wrong…

        So, while you may think that it is boring wherever you happen to be, there are always things going on that can turn that around in a hurry. So, if anyone in your workplace is carrying a disease, brown nosing the boss, or freaking you the heck out with weird desk ornamentation, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a comment below with your own funny office story.

        A special bonus

        And now, a funny short clip from Office Space, one of the best movies to illustrate office life at its nitty gritty core. Email subscribers need to click through to see the video.

        Who’s Got Your Back?

        When things are tough, and you can’t handle it yourself, who’s got your back? I recently heard about the premise behind Keith Ferrazzi’s new book, Who’s Got Your Back? I haven’t read the book (yet), but the concept intrigues me. Basically, people who have at least three deep, fulfilling relationships will end up more successful than those who don’t. And while that sounds like a great idea for everyone to follow, research indicates that half of Americans can’t identify a single person who fits that bill.

        Think about your work relationships. Do you know someone who will stand by you through thick and thin, or have you neglected to develop a relationship of that magnitude? I encourage you to actively pursue this. When I started my current job, I felt like I was a latecomer to a party. But when another person joined our department shortly thereafter, I found the perfect opportunity to start developing that relationship that I was looking for. Now I’d gladly call that person my friend, and I know that my workday wouldn’t be the same without him.

        Let’s hear your response. Have one of those relationships at work? Leave a comment and tell us what makes it special. Are you missing out on the experience? Leave a comment anyway, and maybe we can give you some help with that.

        Photo by Gwennypics.