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Putting A Stop To Workplace Conflict

Thursday 25 March, 2010
When was the last time that you or someone in your team had a disagreement, misunderstanding or conflict? How much are these workplace conflicts costing you in wasted time, energy, effort, lost productivity and lost revenue? Are you tired of spending so much time and energy addressing conflicts rather than growing your business?

Most workplace conflicts arise from misunderstandings and disagreements due to differences in personality and communication style. Some conflicts arise from lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities or from preferential treatment of one employee over the rest. Conflict can even arise because one employee overreacts to another employee’s comments or behaviour, as well as between a business owner and customers, suppliers and alliance and business partners. Regardless of how the conflict arises, addressing it quickly is critical to your business success.

Think about the impact workplace conflict can have on the morale of your team, their attitude when dealing with customers, and the impact on your revenue and business results. Unresolved conflict between two or more staff members, can result in the rest of your team taking sides, which has the potential of dividing your team and reducing team effectiveness.

The most dangerous part of that dynamic is that a lot of the disharmony will occur “under the radar”. Over time, this can subtly sabotage the team’s performance and your business results. This is why it is critical to work through issues, however small, as soon as they arise. If you ignore them and hope that they will go away, chances are they will come back even bigger or in some other form.

Here are seven steps to assist you to put a stop to workplace conflict, to assist your team to refocus on doing their jobs, as well as assist you to refocus your energy on growing your business:

  1. Resolve any past emotions (eg. anger, sadness, fear, hurt, guilt, etc.), self doubts and limiting beliefs. For as long as these are unresolved, other people will be able to “push your buttons”. You will find yourself easily overreacting to other people, which will affect your communication and relationships with others, and your performance.
  2. Understand what motivates your team suppliers, customers and partners, their preferred ways of communicating, their values and drivers. Then learn to communicate your message effectively, taking their preferences into account. This way your message will be heard loud and clear every time, and you will minimise disagreements and misunderstandings.
  3. Be clear about your vision, goals, your expectations, roles and responsibilities and the vision, goals, expectations, roles and responsibilities of those around you. Agree and communicate these with everyone in your team, including your employees, customers, business partners and alliance partners. This will avoid much stress, disagreement, confusion, duplication of effort, errors, rework and underperformance.
  4. Have clear agreements around roles, responsibilities and communication so that everyone in the team understands what is expected of them, and the type of behaviour that is appropriate.
  5. If anyone in the team disrespects these agreements, ensure that they are aware that their behaviour is inappropriate and put a stop to that behaviour immediately. If the behaviour is not stopped it will recur and will become harder to address, as any lack of intervention will send the message that the behaviour is “acceptable”.
  6. Work through issues, however small, as soon as they arise. If you ignore them and hope that they will go away, chances are they will come back even bigger or in some other form.
  7. If you find yourself having challenges with addressing the above or if the conflict persists or recurs, call a professional to assist you with creating lasting harmonious workplace relationships.

Just imagine how much more focused and productive you and your team will be once you put a stop to workplace conflict. And how big a boost this will have to your business results and success!

Author Credits

Dr. Vesna Grubacevic is the Founding Director and Performance Transformation ExpertTM with Qt. She is the creator of breakthrough behavioural change techniques, holds a PhD, a BEc and has over 27 years' business experience, including working directly with CEOs, senior executives and their teams to assist them to create exceptional results. For more techniques on fast tracking your business success and for your FREE gifts, visit http://www.qttransformation.com/ today, call Dr. Grubacevic on (03) 9653-9288 or email her at vesna@qttransformation.com
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