Candidate Resources

5 Steps to Proactively Prevent Workplace Conflict

by Aneliya Petkova | Jul 31, 2016

The thing about conflict and leadership is that they go hand-in-hand. If conflict in your team is not handled in a productive, healthy manner it will be hard to keep your team running smoothly. In fact, according to a 2014 Forbes study, 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations come from strained relationships among employees. Being able to find the conflict and bring a quick end to it can help you be a successful leader- the one your team needs!

So, what can you do to be proactive in reducing the stress and creating an environment where conflict is less likely to happen?

Set Best Practices with regards to behavior

As the leader, you should always emulate the behavior you are trying to create. Good teams will mirror their leader. It’s also equally important to set boundaries so that the team is aware where the lines are drawn and what acceptable behavior is and isn’t. Clear communication made publicly to the team with regards to what is allowed can give your team time to consider the consequences before creating a conflict.

Do not avoid conflict – Hit the conflict head on

Issues within a team will fester and cause bigger problems if ignored. No one likes talking about conflict, but it’s necessary to keep your team harmony. To avoid low team morale, address the conflict before it gets serious. Learn to gage your employees. By observing the employee’s verbal and body language, and communicating regularly, you can examine your employees to find out how they’re reacting, avoiding, or connecting with each other. Knowing how your employees communicate interpersonally could potentially stop a conflict before it even arises. Be sure to handle all issues promptly.

Keep a watchful eye on the “Informal Group Leader”

Though this person does not hold a formal position of authority within your organization, he or she can be very influential in swaying opinions and behaviors within your group. This person can be integral to your team’s development or demise. You need to keep a close pulse on this person and drive positive behaviors, but also recognize that you may have to cut ties with this person if he or she is a negatively influence on your team’s growth.

Actively listen

During conflict resolution, viewpoints will be understood from all sides if everyone is actively listening. Restating the conflict in your own words will keep everyone level headed and on the same page.   Don’t lead the conversation; be sure to ask open questions to get good and honest feedback.

Be a professional leader – don’t make this personal

An important point to remember is to stay calm when dealing with conflict to keep it from creating a personal problem on top of the original problem. Once a problem becomes personal, the chance of peacefully resolving it becomes slim. This is easier said than done at times, but crucial in creating open lines of communication for any future issues that pop up.

Look at conflict resolution as a chance for growth for both you and your team. Be proactive about conflict and something positive will come from it!

Written By: Kelly Schneweis, Senior Practice Leader