Conflict is “an active disagreement between people or groups with opposing opinion, needs or principle.” _ Cambridge Dictionary
Having worked in diverse work environments across two decades, I have seen conflict at workplaces on a daily basis and realised it is expected. Today 20 years later as a Leadership Development Coach working with the NHS Leadership Academy, and coaching Minority Ethnic Women as part of the NHS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme I’ve found conflict management remains a demanding and challenging task for the leaders and their organisations.
It is fascinating to see how people still avoid conflict, though conflict can be a good thing if it has been addressed timely and productively. Conflict is necessary in work environments, it can make the workforce think outside the box, trust and respect one another opinions and help to learn new ways to working together. However, it is when conflict remains unresolved can create a long term consequences for the team members and the organisations. Unfortunately, most people freeze, fight or fly when it comes to the conflict; therefore, they’ll struggle to find a common ground.
Conflict is the normal, inevitable struggle required in teams and organisations. It’s only natural for employees from diverse backgrounds and with different personalities to have varying opinions and beliefs. It’s important to address these differences wisely to avoid longer term effects on engagement, team dynamic and in some cases decreased productivity, motivation and morale. Hence conflict needs to be resolved in work environments in a timely, productive and positive manner. If it remains undiscussed or unresolved there is a risk of building-up issues and escalating to other areas and teams in the organisation. Avoiding conflict at workplaces is more harmful than dealing with each situation, it can decrease trust among team members, create stress and in a long term impact productivity.
Although most managers and leaders tend to dislike and avoid conflict, addressing conflict constructively can improve personal growth, increase trust, respect, empathy, creativity and innovation in the workplace with a positive impact on the organisational culture, maximising productivity.
Now we know how important it is to address conflict immediately, here are some suggestions to what to do when facing conflict at work. The First step is to understand and recognise there is a problem:
- Acknowledge conflict and resistance to it is normal.
- Be aware of emotions to find values and to be able to create a common ground.
- Active listening is a fastest and easiest way to deal with conflict constructively.
- Empathise with other people even if you are in disagreement with someone or something.
- Problem solving, not arguing by giving a credit to the issue and the person.
How will your leadership and senior managers address conflicts at your work place?
I help leaders to effectively and positively address conflict at workplace on a daily basis. If you would like to know about my leadership development programmes to support you and help cultivate your organisational culture – drop me a message and I will be in touch!
I look forward to hearing from you