Workplace leaders have a unique responsibility to manage and prevent employee conflict whenever possible. Employees may develop conflicts between each other as a result of cultural differences, competition, or a toxic culture that has been neglected by leadership.

Many of these conflicts develop unintentionally, so it requires a conscious effort from workplace leaders to prevent them. Professional conflict management training can be very effective in providing workplace leaders with the tools needed to minimize conflict in the workplace.

Below are 5 tips that leaders can implement for conflict prevention:

Tip #1 – Avoid popularity contests

Many workplace leaders fall into the trap of turning work into a popularity contest. It may be difficult not to seem to favour high performers. However, this type of environment is not conducive to fairness and can easily result in conflict development.

Leaders should be focused on getting the full potential out of every member of their team, ensuring harmony in the workplace and guiding the organization.

Leaders should never be hesitant to pull aside any employee, regardless of how well they are performing, in order to hold serious discussions about things they may be doing that are contributing to conflicts. By acting in this neutral manner, leaders will be much more respected.

Tip #2 – Respond quickly to conflict

Leaders always have many tasks they are juggling; however, they should make it a priority to deal with conflicts as soon as they arise. Many conflicts have some kind of warning that precedes them, such as a complaint, an email or even rumours.

If there is any sort of tension that is starting to build up in the workplace, leaders should pinpoint the cause and resolve any conflicts before they turn into a more challenging situations.

Tip #3 – Provide and receive consistent feedback

Hosting quarterly face to face feedback evaluations can help leaders learn much more about their employees including their personalities, unique backgrounds, and anything that they are struggling with in the workplace. It’s an excellent opportunity for conflicts to be identified before they become more difficult to address.

With some carefully worded questions that can be learned through conflict management training, the performance review can be used to gather a wide range of valuable information.

Leaders should also be open to receiving feedback on what they could be doing better and encourage it from their employees to identify any tendencies that they have that may be leading to conflicts.

Tip #4 – Respect and try to understand differences

In a global society and with increasing diversity in almost every workplace, it is of the utmost importance for leaders to respect and understand all types of differences between employees. Cultural differences can play a major role in how and why conflicts develop in modern workplaces.

Leaders must be open to developing trust toward those who may be significantly different from them in terms of background and culture. Hesitancy in this area can result in unnecessary tension and employees feeling like their contributions and opinions are not being respected.

The Stitt Feld Handy Group provides a comprehensive array of conflict management training courses and workshops that cover these strategies and many others. Contact us at 1-416-307-0000 for more information.

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