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Strategies To Resolve Conflicts In The Workplace

Conflicts in the workspace are one of the most common problems that you might face, as an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or even someone on a managerial level. While all of us would love for the workplace to run smoothly without conflicts, it is important for us to understand that conflicts are an unavoidable part of running a business venture.

In a workplace, employees tend to come from different socio-economical and cultural backgrounds, and can often have different methods of approaching things. These differences in opinions directly lead to conflicts. And at the end of the day, these conflicts might actually prove to be good for the employees. Some employees use these conflicts to fuel their productivity and as an instrument for their personal growth, rather than taking it as a personal attack.

That being said, you, as a startup owner/manager, should have some mechanisms in place that will help you resolve conflicts before they turn into something bitter, which could harm your organization’s productivity.

Here are a few things that you can do. 

1. Understand the Situation Thoroughly

Any conflict will at least have two sides to the story, and more often than not, all the parties involved will think they’re in the right. Sometimes personal egos clash, and the other times, it might have just been a huge misunderstanding. Make sure to not jump to conclusions based on one side of the story. 

Make sure to use any and all tools at your disposal to get to the root of the issue. While it may seem like it’s taking away your attention from the core business in the short run (and rightfully so), this will send a message to your employees that any and all conflict resolutions will happen based purely on the facts of the circumstances, and not personal bias. This will directly reduce the number of conflicts your employees have, boost the workforce morale, and contribute to increasing your productivity in the long run.

2. Address the core issue, not the conflict

While it can be extremely easy to resolve individual conflicts, as an entrepreneur, it becomes your duty to understand why these conflicts arise and make sure to nip them in the bud.  While this might not be immediately possible from the first-ever conflict in your workplace, as time goes, you will have enough information to look for a pattern and understand the core issues. 

Conflicts may happen for a wide number of reasons. These include an unclear reporting system, a single troublesome employee, or highly competitive colleagues. If you’re able to spot the core issue – for instance, coming up with an incentive scheme encouraging mutual growth and healthy competition instead of a workplace that encourages unhealthy competition, you will be able to reduce a lot of costs in redressing conflicts.

3. Patience and Communication is the key

While it is true that prevention is better than cure, there is no point looking back once a conflict has already started. Tempers will run high, which will oftentimes lead to words being thrown seemingly without consequence. It is crucial that you remain patient throughout. Engage in clear communication with all the parties involved. Transparency and honesty would go a long way in resolving workspace conflicts. 

4. Be fast, but not hasty

Yes, it is necessary that you address the conflict as fast as possible. However, that does not, in any way, mean that you should rush the redressal process. Arriving at a hasty solution that might cause more harm than good. Have a thorough, dedicated system in place for conflict redressal, which is efficient, but deliberate to optimize the pace at which you arrive at the correct solution.

Decision making assessments for startups

While there are ways to resolve conflicts, these methods definitely do take significant time and resources to get through. This is the exact reason we, at Tactyqal, recommend you to have preventative measures in place.

1. Have a grievance redressal system in place, if not a dedicated HR

Big organizations have dedicated HR departments, for plenty of reasons. Human Resource managers are highly trained at resolving conflicts and will help you create a positive workforce culture that helps avoid these conflicts in the first place. That being said if your organization is not big enough to reasonably afford a Human Resource department, make sure to structure a grievance redressal system to ensure that your employees stay focused on what really matters.

2. Workforce Culture, something to keep in mind

We’ve mentioned the importance of workforce culture multiple times throughout this article. A really effective and diverse workforce culture will also contain a set of rules that your employees are expected to follow. As a business owner, you have complete authority to set the ground rules, and explain what is tolerable and what is not. That being said, an effective workspace culture contains more than just strict rules.

Everything from the dress code, to the language used in the office space, brings a certain vibe to the workplace. Sometimes, you might have to keep these points in mind even before you choose to hire an employee and see if he’s indeed a right fit for your organization. 

Whilst being a crucial skill to have, workspace conflict management is only a small part of what is necessary to run a business. 

FAQ – Workplace Conflict Resolution

Q: Why are conflicts common in the workplace? A: Conflicts often arise in the workplace due to the diverse backgrounds, opinions, and approaches of employees. Differences in socio-economic and cultural backgrounds can lead to clashes of opinions and conflicts.

Q: Can conflicts in the workplace have positive outcomes? A: Yes, conflicts can sometimes lead to positive outcomes. Some employees use conflicts as a catalyst for personal growth and increased productivity. Resolving conflicts effectively can contribute to employee development and overall organizational productivity.

Q: What can startup owners/managers do to resolve conflicts? A: Here are some strategies for conflict resolution in the workplace:

  1. Understand the situation thoroughly by gathering all the facts and perspectives involved.
  2. Address the core issue causing the conflicts, focusing on resolving the underlying problem rather than just individual conflicts.
  3. Practice patience and clear communication with all parties involved, promoting transparency and honesty.
  4. Act promptly but avoid hasty decisions, ensuring a thorough and deliberate conflict resolution process.

Q: Why is it important for startup owners/managers to address conflicts proactively? A: Addressing conflicts proactively helps prevent them from escalating and potentially harming the organization’s productivity. It also fosters a positive work environment, boosts employee morale, and reduces the costs associated with conflict resolution.

Q: What preventative measures can startups implement to minimize workplace conflicts? A: Startups can consider the following measures:

  1. Establish a dedicated HR department or a grievance redressal system to effectively handle conflicts.
  2. Develop a positive and inclusive workforce culture with clear rules and expectations for behavior.
  3. Prioritize cultural fit when hiring employees, ensuring they align with the organization’s values and work environment.

Q: Is conflict resolution the only important aspect of running a business? A: No, conflict resolution is just one aspect of running a business. While essential, it is important to focus on other key areas such as strategic planning, operational efficiency, marketing, and customer satisfaction to ensure overall success.

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