Conflict is a paradox. It can incite both positive development and negative damage. It will always be with us and is essential to our development, but it must be managed.
Conflict is all about people. Each is an individual and each individual is different. The key to managing conflict in the workplace is to manage the individuals to achieve the positives while avoiding or minimising the negatives. There is no magic formula for this but it relies on understanding:
The Eight Principles Intrinsic to Managing Conflict
- Conflict is about people. Too often we concentrate on the ideal, the concept, the process, the technology, the spreadsheet or the organisation and forget about the people.
- People are individuals. Too often we ‘label’ people as groups – shop floor, salesmen, managers, clients – and forget they are also individuals.
- Individuals have different viewpoints. The brain is not a computer. Our minds are shaped by life’s experiences with varying knowledge, understanding and views. Something that is normal and rational to one person may be perceived very differently by another.
- People perform best when they feel fulfilled. Individuals are generally much more productive when they feel motivated, engaged, empowered and feel they are making a positive contribution.
- People resort to conflict when they are worried. Isolated, anxious and disenfranchised individuals are more likely to be negative.
- Not everyone can manage conflict. Arguably, everyone should be able to manage conflict, but the reality is that not everyone can. Leaders must compensate for this by playing a vital role in managing conflict in the workplace.
- Not everyone can lead. Technical competence and seniority do not necessarily mean an individual is a good leader.
- Remain impartial. All too often, managers dealing with the conflict get drawn into it, becoming part of the problem, so it is very important to stay impartial.
The Management of Conflict: Why Experience Matters
The science and techniques required in managing conflict at work can be taught – but the skills can take time to develop. Effective management of conflict relies on getting the ‘feel’ for people and developing the ability to observe and understand the dynamics of (inevitably evolving) situations, making continual, minor adjustments accordingly.
Conflict management is essential to any company or organisation but it does consume large swathes of time and is usually stressful and sensitive. By using experienced, impartial conflict management consultants you reap the many rewards but without the heartache.
We do not charge for an initial consultation. Please get in touch to discuss how we can help you and your organisation.