Workplace conflict can reduce productivity, create a toxic work environment, and even contribute to workplace injuries. One of the most important roles that leaders in the plastics industry have is managing conflict. Below we’ll cover how to use good leadership to overcome conflict in the workplace and to foster a more harmonious work environment.
You can’t overcome conflict in the workplace without excellent communication. If there is tension between team members, sit down with them one-on-one and listen. This is the only way to understand what the source of the conflict is. Having an open-door policy will also help facilitate better communication. If employees feel comfortable coming to you with their problems, you can settle conflicts before they become unmanageable. Listening is the most important aspect of communication. You have to make sure everyone feels heard, or the tension will only deepen. Once you have actively listened to everyone involved in the conflict, take some time to reflect. Then, you can offer up suggestions to resolve the conflict. Or better yet, ask for their input for how to resolve the conflict. Everyone should feel like their input matters.
Conflict Between Leadership and Employees
Generally, there are two types of workplace conflicts: conflict between employees and leaders and conflict between employees and other employees. Often, conflicts between leadership and employees can be resolved by listening, staying humble, and practicing self-reflection. Understand that no one is perfect, including you. When there is conflict that involves you, seek out feedback. Once you understand the shortcomings you have as a leader, it will be easier to resolve any conflict you might have with your team members.
Confront Conflict, Don’t Ignore It
It’s tempting to ignore conflict and hope it goes away on its own. But this is not realistic. There is always going to be conflict in the workplace because disagreements are natural. When there is conflict, acknowledge it; but don’t try to deal with it in the heat of the moment. When things have cooled down, sit down with the team members involved in the conflict and talk through the tension. At the same time, you want to model healthy conflict. Show that it’s okay for people to disagree with each other but that it’s important to remain respectful despite disagreements.
Think about Hiring a Consultant
If there is ongoing conflict in the workplace that has created toxic team dynamics, you may need to hire a consultant. Conflict resolution consultants are highly effective at helping people become more aware of how their actions affect the team and can help change team dynamics for the better.
Although it is impossible to create a conflict-free work environment, leaders can effectively manage conflict by practicing excellent communication skills, actively listening to their team, and understanding that as a leader there is always room for improvement.
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