Managers: dealing with workplace conflict the easy way

It doesn't have to be a drawn out, awkward and draining process. This is how you can handle it easily.

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March 01 2017


According to Queensland Government research, more than 65 per cent of workplace conflict was found to stem from strained relationships rather than a lack of skills or motivation.

Don’t let work become toxic. If you ignore conflict the results can be disastrous. It can lead to leading to low morale and high staff turnover (which costs you a lot in time and money).  

When workplace conflict rears it's ugly head, here's how to manage it:


Don’t fear conflict 
You can't escape it, so don't avoid dealing with it. Seek to listen and understand the conflict, then develop a plan to deal with it. Make sure you remain objective, the worst thing you can do is get stuck in the middle of something! 

Define the problem 

What is the actual problem? Look beyond the emotions running high. Is the root cause differing personality styles or opinions? Meet with employees separately and ask questions. Let them express their feelings. Look at the underlying needs and think about small ways to achieve win-win situations that everyone can live with.

Deal with it quickly

If you wait, it will snowball. Tackle it head on so it doesn’t escalate and hurt productivity. Everyone involved must be consulted so all sides are considered fairly. Conflicts should be handled confidentially and with care to minimise impact on other staff.

Keep accurate records 

Keep track of emails and documents. Lack of information or misunderstanding can cause conflict and a quick look at an email or report can diffuse a situation pretty quickly. Devise a good record keeping system so you can confirm the facts when dealing with a disagreement.

Follow-up actions

Determine a time to follow up with everyone (separately) and see how they're doing. If the rift continues then it may be time to explore other options. This can include seeking another supervisor’s opinion or mediation with the HR team. 

Dealing with conflict can be tricky and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re stuck and need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for advice on handling difficult scenarios.

The bottom line? Remain professional and nip it in the bud before it takes it's toll on your team!

Sign up to the MAX newsletter for more advice, resources and tips like this.

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