No matter how cohesive and harmonious your company culture might be, work conflicts and arguments are going to happen occasionally. That’s never going to change. However, how you deal with work conflicts can stop them from causing unnecessary harm to productivity, employees and the work environment. In fact, they can even be a driving force for improvements and positive change.Here are six ways you can deal with work conflicts before they contaminate the company culture.
1. Confront Work Conflicts Directly
Encourage employees to first address the person or group of people causing the conflict before bringing the problem to management. Make sure that incentives and performance reviews enforce this behavior so that drama and gossip is stopped at the source before it has a chance to spread and cause more harm.
2. Keep Work Conflicts Constructive
Conflict doesn’t have to be negative. It can actually be a driving force for positive change. Consequently, it’s important to keep work conflicts within the context of constructive improvements. Don’t validate unhealthy disagreements that seek only to tear down rather than making improvements.
3. Embrace Conflicts
While conflicts can look simply like fighting, they can actually be motivators to improve performance to push toward better outcomes. Healthy conflict with positive intention toward the outcome pressures people to push themselves.
4. Recognize When Resolution Is Not Possible
While working within conflicts to reach mutual goals can be a source for deeper collaboration, some conflicts are irreconcilable and will only contaminate company culture. In these cases, dissolution is the only real resolution.
5. Change the Battlefield
While minor issues and conflicts usually reach resolutions fairly quickly, sometimes there are fundamental differences between team members that can’t be cleared up with a few words. In these cases, taking the conflict away from the office can help add levity to the situation and help all parties to see it from a different perspective.
6. Use Mediation
While it’s important to address issues directly with coworkers or superiors, sometimes it’s necessary to have an impartial third-party step in. This eliminates the direct conflict and helps ease bruised egos.