How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

Businessman and woman having a meeting in a coffee shop, discussing work
Conflict can lead to decreased productivity, increased employee absenteeism and workplace drama. Although conflict is normal, it can affect employee morale if not managed correctly. Knowing how to manage conflict in the workplace is vital for your leaders, turning a potentially harmful situation into an innovative and productive one.

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict management at work is about mediation. Most negative experiences happen because leaders lack the confidence or skill to deal with conflict. Conflict can be an opportunity to address gaps and a way to innovate. It shouldn’t be about egos or personality clashes.

Conflict isn’t the same as workplace drama, which leaches energy and productivity. Drama occurs when individuals in the organization misuse conflict situations, missing opportunities for effective engagement. Managing conflict and drama is possible with the right skills and steps.

1. Lead by Example

As a leader, you need to set a positive conflict management example. Your position requires you to show composure and rationality and make considered and unbiased decisions.

2. Get to the Heart of the Conflict

A crucial step in conflict management is identifying the root cause. Allow all parties to give their understanding of the cause, and try to discern what lies at the core.

3. Acknowledge Differences

Recognize that leaders and team members may have different working styles and thought processes. Conflict management requires acknowledging and understanding cultural, generational and operational differences.

4. Establish Your Neutrality

During conflict, leaders may be accused of being biased and making decisions that always favor a side. Ensure all sides give their input in this discussion.

5. Encourage Openness

For conflict to be positive, all parties should feel confident they have a safe space to address issues. Encourage transparency and establish a safe space for vulnerability. Empathize with others and avoid disrespectful and accusatory language.

6. Ask for Solutions

Ask employees for suggestions rather than making overriding and hasty decisions. Discuss options and potential solutions with them. By discussing outcomes as a group, you will have more buy-in and can mitigate drama.

7. Offer Support

Employees may clash because of stress or mental health issues. Provide support, encourage work-life balance and ask for feedback on how to better help them.

Learn More About Effectively Handling Conflict at Work

At The Center for Leadership Studies, our Situational Leadership® methodology has helped us train more than 15 million leaders. Our innovative courses give your leaders the skills and confidence to communicate effectively and build trust and morale.

Our five decades of knowledge and expertise will help us equip your leaders to deal with conflict, increase productivity and inspire innovation. Contact us to learn more.