Workplace Conflict: Are You Avoiding Managing Your Employees?

Workplace Conflict: Are You Avoiding Managing Your Employees?

As a manager, one of your responsibilities is managing conflict that comes up on your team or in your organization. But how, exactly, are you dealing with it?

Some managers prefer to look the other way, or let employees handle internal conflict among themselves. In fact, most bosses and managers would rather do almost anything else that directly confront conflict that may be happening at work.

According to a recent survey by Healthy Companies Int’nl, quoted in this article of HR Executive Online, “41% of employees responding to the survey think the person to whom they report does not deal well with workplace conflicts. In fact, of 20 managerial behaviors that the survey asked respondents to rate how much they trusted their immediate supervisor to master, handling workplace conflicts ranked last in the survey.”

The bad news is that if avoidance is how you deal with conflict, your employees have probably noticed. The worse news is that the avoidance strategy doesn’t work, your conflict situation, if left by itself, will grow into your worst nightmare.

How do you change this? In the article, a Team Development Manager in Chicago suggests “Managers should create a feedback culture of ongoing communication, so that tensions do not build up…they should talk to their people regularly and one-on-one, giving them opportunities to raise concerns, issues and challenges around their roles and responsibilities. That way, they’re less likely to deal with blow-ups.”

I agree this is a great preventative step. However, often by the time you notice that workplace conflict has become a serious problem, blow-ups, damage, and real hurt to the bottom line have already occurred.

If your conflict has become serious, it can be mitigated with appropriate responses to complaints, including skilled investigators and customized coaching. Even if it has become thorny, it can be resolved.

I’m Kathleen Bartle, a strategic consultant on workplace conflict to executives worldwide for more than 20 years.  My work brings individualized solutions to your teams’ lost productivity, loss of key personnel, low morale, and the high costs resulting from bullying, abrasive behaviors and interpersonal workplace conflicts.  You can contact me here.

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