In this day and age, we have been introduced to a diversity of beliefs and opinions, and challenged by different personalities and unusual practices at work. “The contemporary workforce is packed with people from different cultures, backgrounds and qualifications” quoted by ATG’s Pieter Vermaak.
This dynamic workforce is advantageous and almost necessary to compete on a global scale, and roles in the company have evolved as people are now forced to work faster and more closely together. However this inevitable but necessary shift has been responsible for a number of conflicts and disagreements in the workplace. Don’t think conflicts are exclusive to big companies…..Conflict is just as prevalent in micro-organisations. It is true what has been said that “While the size of an organisation may determine the amount of conflict, no company can escape conflict”.
Wherever people are forced to co-exist, there will be opportunities for differences in opinion to arise. When it comes to handling conflict the number one point to remember, is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. There are many techniques, theories, and methodologies to combatting conflict, but it all comes down to this simple principle.
We need to remember that we are all human beings and that we need to treat each other with the respect we would like to receive. Personality clashes are one of the most common causes of conflict and when this type of disagreement arises in a team, it could become detrimental to the functioning of the team, the department and organisation as a whole. ATG’s advise to managers, are to ask three crucial questions when potential conflicts are identified, before attempting to resolve the problem….:
- What is the goal of the team?
- Why is there conflict?
- What is temperament of the individuals?
Unfortunately there are instances when a conflict which is not dealt with in time, escalates to the point of public confrontation. Managers should stay ‘cool, calm, collected and focused’ at these moments and should avoid taking sides.
While a public confrontation is not the ideal way of airing views, honesty is still the best policy and managers should encourage employees to speak honestly and openly, preferably in a private and controlled environment. When a manager is not directly involved in the problem he or she is able to smooth the process, however it becomes more challenging when conflicts arise between manager and employees. At times like these it is not always easy to remain objective. Managers should create a comfortable environment when attempting to resolve the conflict. Managers should be kind, concise and emphasize their concern for the employee’s wellbeing. Statements such as ‘I would like to work with you to resolve this disagreement’ or ‘how can I assist you in this area of concern’ are good opening questions.
Conflicts will occur and when they do, ‘don’t take it personally’. We should remember that disagreements are bound to happen and they are best resolved when egos are left out of it. While conflict may be an inescapable part of working with others, they should be resolved immediately. On the rare occasion when a truce seems impossible, it is important to look at the attitudes of the parties concerned before dismissing the process.