April is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month. How do you handle workplace conflict? Organize a Sensitivity Workshop? Throw a paintball party? Lock the offending employees in a room until they figure it out? Ignore it and hope the situation will be resolved on its own. According to the Washington Business Journal, the typical manager spends one to two days of every week, 25-40% of his or her time, dealing with workplace conflicts.
When an employee uses sick days to avoid conflict at work, there is a direct cost to the business. Someone has to cover the absent employee’s duties, making double the work and responsibilities, perhaps a need for overtime, or the hiring of a temporary employee. A more drastic situation would be employee turnover due to conflict. Avoiding the conflict creates a drain of energy and money.
Unresolved conflict may result in loss of productivity, blocking creative flow and obstacles appearing to disrupt cooperation and collaboration.
The secret to conflict resolution is…conflict prevention wherever possible.
Your secret weapon in conflict prevention is clear communication.
Looking back on past conflicts, think about how many were the result of lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation. There may have been an occasion where you had information, but you didn’t know what to do with it. Clear, concise, and accurate sharing of information will help ease both the amount and the degree of conflicts.
Re-framing the conflict as an opportunity for growth leverages the conflict as a tool to highlight differing opinions and stimulate innovation.