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Conflict Management in the workplace

Published on Tue 3, 2020
Conflict Management in the workplace

According to a study by CPP Inc., US employees spend 2.1 hours of their work time every week involved in conflicts. Conflict is a disagreement between employees or parties, which can lead to disruption of work.

Managing people always involves conflict at some point or the other. It is not an easy task to manage conflicts. However, it has to be managed at the right time and in the right manner. Conflict resolution is one of the most relevant skills required in a leader. Every leader has their methods of managing conflict. There is no right or wrong method. However, solving conflicts is imperative for a good working environment.

Styles of Conflict Management

As per the conflict strategies developed by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann (Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument), conflict management has five styles namely, collaborating, avoiding, accommodating, compromising, and competing. A manager or leader with the awareness of the different conflict management styles can approach a situation more efficiently and effectively.

Collaborating: Collaborating style is being co-operative and assertive to work together and identify a solution. In this style, the outcome is important, and maintaining a long-term relationship is essential.

Avoiding: This style should be used carefully. It is used when the leader can temporarily delay solving the situation and focus on other important work. The problem shouldn’t lead to a threatening situation that will impact work productivity.   

Accommodating: Accommodating style is used when you want to maintain or preserve the relationship, and the outcome is not a major concern.

Compromising: Compromising style is used when there isn’t sufficient time to resolve the conflict, and the leader wants to move on to more important things. A decision is made where both parties are partially satisfied.

Competing: Competing is used by those who are not cooperative. However, arriving at a solution is more critical. This solution should be avoided when solving problems within the teams or organization. It doesn’t lead to a healthy relationship.

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Information Source: CPP Inc. and Workplace Conflict Statistics by Jonathan & Erik Bernstein


Techniques for conflict resolution:

Whenever conflict arises, a leader should resort to solving it. Ignoring or leaving it to resolve in its course of time may lead to tensions between team members. A leader should identify if there are any underlying issues between team members. A leader must drive employee engagement, create a healthy workplace environment, and a cordial relationship between employees. A leader should confront problems at the right time. Delaying confrontation can later lead to bigger problems.

Below are some of the techniques that leaders use for conflict resolution:

Listening: When resolving conflicts, a leader should keep aside emotions and listen carefully to the involved parties. Active listening is the key to having a deeper insight into what led to a misunderstanding between both parties. It’s essential to listen carefully and resolve without being biased.

Avoid prejudices: Avoid being judgemental when listening to grievances. Listen with an open mind and be neutral. Do not take sides or form perceptions before listening to the conflicted parties. Always take into consideration the views of both parties and decide after considering the situation carefully.

Open door for discussion: Bring both the parties together to discuss their respective experiences. Make them feel comfortable to speak about their issues. Understand all perspectives and then make a decision that is comfortable for both parties.

Do not delay: Whenever there is conflict, solve it at the right time. Delaying to resolve the conflict can worsen the situation.  It can have a huge impact on the productivity or overall environment in the organization. However, do not rush but take a favorable decision at the right time.

Training Leaders on Conflict Management

It is imperative leaders are trained to manage conflict. A leader who has been trained to handle conflicts and resolution management can derive positive experiences from conflicts. When conflicts are managed positively, it can bring out a good understanding of each other and have a better workplace environment.

  • Leaders must instill in their team the importance of teamwork and working with integration with each other. Encourage team members the importance of working together, which will help in increasing efficiency.
  • If you have to appraise a team member, don’t hesitate to do it publicly. However, be careful that the person you’re appraising has a desirable character. When you correct someone always do it privately, and never in front of other employees.
  • Whenever you’re addressing a conflict, always refer to your company policies. It will help in solving problems amicably. Drive unity among your team members and avoid conflicts that will impact productivity.

One of the aspects a professional learns through Project Management is how to manage conflicts. Conflict is inevitable in project management. A project manager can use the principles of project management to approach and resolve conflict and accomplish the goals of a project.

Learn more about Project Management Professional (PMP) courses or other popular Project Management Certifications by contacting or call on +1 855 322 1201.  

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