workplace conflict resolution

Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace – the Sanitation Way

No matter the industry your business falls into, it’s likely you’ll experience some sort of conflict in the workplace – even in sanitation companies. You may be having a dispute about how to respond and navigate bad customer reviews, or management may have uncertainty in transitioning your brick-and-mortar location online. Conflict can appear in many ways but learning how to approach and manage the situation effectively is key to overall business performance. Workplace conflict resolution will work for you.

Communication + Emotion

Professional and personal conflicts stem from communication error and emotion driving the reaction or resolution. Whether it’s lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation, each of these are communication problems that can lead to conflict. Business owners are encouraged to utilize concise and accurate communication tactics in a timely manner, as this will ease both the number and severity of conflicts. Emotion can quickly become intertwined in a conflict, making it extremely important to gather thoughts and approaches before addressing the situation. Many business owners have found success in addressing situations of conflict through effective conflict resolution strategies. Having processes in place allows each party to share their thoughts, opinions, and issues in a healthy and monitored environment.

Conflict = Opportunity

While it’s almost a given that some sort of conflict will arise in your business, it’s essential that you know conflict can’t always be prevented. Along with a conflict resolution process, business owners should also practice conflict prevention, which is identifying potential areas of conflict and proactively intervening as needed. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with these weak points, thus making minimizing a situation’s severity that much easier.

Should a conflict present itself, rather than becoming frustrated, view the situation as a positive teaching and learning opportunity. In every disagreement, there is likely potential for growth and development for all involved parties. Having this mindset will not only set you up for success but will also help you in clarifying the source of the conflict. In any conflict, all involved parties must be willing to share their depiction of the event so you can establish a clear understanding. The following is an excellent rule of thumb:

  • If you recognize a conflict between employees, encourage them to work it out
  • If you notice a conflict between two teams, work to improve interdepartmental communication
  • If you have a conflict with one of your employees, address it head-on and in private

Talk + Listen + Define

Initiating a constructive conversation after a conflict is brought to your attention is extremely important. However, it’s encouraged to find an environment that is not only safe for you to talk but one that is private and comfortable for everyone involved. While discussing the situation, each party must get an equal amount of time to share their views. This will help create an environment where everyone feels included and like their opinions matter. Before the meeting begins, it’s encouraged to set ground rules, whether that’s sharing in an open and honest matter, sharing a framework for decisioning, or a newly reformed authority statement. You must not let any individual monopolize the conversation or control the topic as the conflict involves everyone in attendance, not just one sole individual.

At times, information and interpretation can become skewed or misleading, making it vital that you take the time to understand each individual message fully. While mediating the discussion, ask clarifying questions and rephrase and repeat back what you’ve heard to confirm understanding. Every conflict needs a clear resolution, and each party should be encouraged to forgive quickly. If an agreement is made solely for the sake of appearances, it can lead to a much larger issue down the road, thus undoing any progress you’ve already made. It’s recommended to have a thorough, published delegation of authority as this will encourage sound business practices in team building, leadership development, collaboration, and talent management. Providing clearly defined job descriptions will also ensure your employees stay on track and know what’s expected of them daily. Additionally, establishing and articulating the chain of command will allow for effective communication and avoid future conflicts.

Attention to Detail

In any conflict situation, it’s vital to understand each party’s motivations, so you can help each achieve their goals. This will allow you to resolve conflict efficiently and provide reassurance that the resolution will benefit all parties as many ask, “what’s in it for me?” Along with this, it’s also essential to have a mentality that translates if an issue is important enough to create a conflict, then it’s likely significant enough to address and resolve. Once you’ve listened to each party’s concerns, it’s vital to set time aside to investigate further what’s going on.

  • Ask questions
  • Further understand the happenings
  • Address and identify involved parties
  • Evaluate how people are feeling
  • Discuss the issues at hand
  • Identify any underlying conflict sources

Guidance + Agreement

Upon addressing the conflict in its entirety, it’s recommended that you have a common objective of resolving the issue and taking steps to ensure it doesn’t resurface. Clear communication, active listening, and brainstorming are all beneficial actions until all options are exhausted. Ask each party to provide a conclusion on the best solution for the issue, so every opinion is considered. Participating in this will also help individuals find common ground, which can make the situation more comfortable for all. If you’re in a leadership role, you’ll likely be responsible for mediating the conflict and guiding the conversation. Identifying commonalities and positive aspects of the process will help everyone feel the resolution went smoothly and encourage continued personal and professional growth.

Next Steps

Even though the conflict has been resolved, it’s encouraged to complete continuous evaluation to ensure business practices are improving and preventative measures are being taken. Every situation of conflict is a lesson to be learned and will help you develop preventative strategies for the future. From fine-tuning your hiring procedures to ensure the right people are hired for the job to providing new hires with adequate, transparent training, there are many moves business owners can take to deal with conflict in the workplace. Our daily lives include conflict in one way or another, whether with coworkers, friends, or family. Identifying ways in which conflict can be resolved healthily is the first step to preventing it in the future.

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