Resolving internal conflict

Written by Neville De Lucia • Online since 3.03.2016 • Filed under Press Release • From Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016 page(s) 42-43
Resolving internal conflict

Conflict resolution is an important management skill and knowing how and when to intervene is essential for keeping the peace.

CONFLICT in the workplace is often unavoidable because of differences in work goals and personal styles. It exists in every organisation and, to a certain extent, indicates a healthy exchange of ideas and creativity. However, counter-productive conflict can result in employee dissatisfaction, reduced productivity, absenteeism, increased employee turnover or a hostile work environment.

The ability to deal with people is a purchasable commodity

Workplaces are naturally stressful environments and personal conflicts between co-workers can be a cause and product of this stress. Allowing conflicts to build and intensify will only impair the work environment, eventually leading to the whole office choosing sides and resulting in an extremely volatile atmosphere. In anticipation of this it is crucial for management to intervene. It is a key management competency to practice effective conflict management to maintain a positive workplace environment.

Process conflict – control what you can

Resolving conflict is a process, and determining how much control you have as a manager over this process is the first step. By identifying the core of the problem and pin pointing someone to take ownership of the issue ensures that this isn’t just on your shoulders, but rather that everyone takes responsibility. Discuss the problem and establish a workable solution and action plan that is agreed upon by everyone. The owner of the process should follow through on the plan but as the leader, even though you may not be implementing the resolution plan, it is your job to show recognition where necessary.

Role conflict – responsible action

When conflict arises because of different roles within an organisation, it’s important for each person to perceive their own role in relation to others involved. Each person needs to take responsibility for their own actions as they pertain to the issue, and be prepared to change their perception of their role  should the need arise. You won’t receive the desired results if one or more parties are not interested in resolving the situation. Everyone involved will need to be on the same page and will need to show willingness to be flexible in achieving the organisation’s goals. If you are in the middle of the conflict, it’s imperative for you to stay positive and view any role changes in terms of a new opportunity. This indicates the importance of keeping our attitudes in check as managers and team leaders.

Interpersonal conflict – fine-tuning human behaviour

Everyone has their own personal opinion about things, but the problem comes when people believe their opinion is dominant to everyone else’s. As a manager you cannot always get people to agree, especially when it comes to personal ideas or biases. In a situation where two employees are constantly knocking heads, sit them down individually and ask them to write down three behaviours they could change to help reduce the conflict. In a South African context, there may also be prejudices at play. It is of vital importance that these are managed in a working environment. To take the focus off individuals, take it a step further and get them to write down five strengths they recognise in the other person. For the next three months ensure they are accountable to you until you start to see a difference in their behaviour.

Direction conflict – set the record straight

When there are many decision makers working on one project, it is natural for each person to have their own opinion about the direction to take. The solution to resolving directional conflict is to get each individual to clarify the discrepancies they have so that it can be described in neutral words. Do this in an informal meeting ensuring each person is friendly and non-confrontational, ultimately resulting in agreement. If there are differences in values, as a leader make the call to always go with the higher value.

 External conflicts – put them into perspective

External situations that are out of your control can easily arise in the workplace and result in conflict among employees or clients. Establish how much control you actually have over the situation and carefully choose which battles are worth fighting, bearing in mind you may still need to liaise with the person in the near future. To resolve the issue, maintain your perspective and focus on the things you can do rather than complaining about the things you can’t do to change the situation. If things get too out of hand, talk to someone you trust and who is able to offer you reputable advice.

Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016

Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016

This article was featured on page 42-43 of SABI Magazine Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016 .

Share this

Power Week Africa Conference 2018 take off 15 Sept 18
Footer ads

Subscribe to our Digital Magazine (free)