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From the outside, your team may look happy. They’re all smiling, chatting, and laughing. But underneath, resentment is brewing. The fact of the matter is, you can’t improve teamwork in the workplace until you address the underlying conflicts between your employees.

“But my team actually likes each other!”

That may be the case, but human beings have conflict, whether you admit or accept it. Sometimes the issues start out small, like someone taking the last cup of coffee and not brewing another pot. But eventually, the issues can multiply until you have an all-out war on your hands. You spend 40+ hours a week with your work “family.” How could conflict not arise?

Do you think that bands don’t get at each other’s throats when they’re on the road? Of course, they do! Personality types vary and when you spend that much time with others, problems are bound to happen. Marvelless Mark® tells his clients that the question isn’t whether or not there will be conflict, it’s how will you handle conflict when it comes.

How to Handle Workplace Conflict

When you know how to cut conflict off at the pass and communicate with your employees, you can improve the way that they relate to each other and prevent any situations from which there’s no coming back. Here are a few tips:

  1. Clearly state objectives, responsibilities, and acceptable behavior.

Just because conflict is inevitable, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do everything in your power to ward it off. The best way to do this is to make every single employee aware of what is expected of them within their job description and within their interpersonal relationships.

  1. Handle conflict the moment it appears.

While it may be easier (in the short term) to ignore workplace conflict, it will ultimately lead to the breakdown of your employee’s relationships. When a disagreement comes to your attention that may have the potential to become a larger issue, call the parties into your office and discuss the situation openly and honestly.

  1. Discuss behaviors, not personalities.

Whenever you give feedback, whether it’s to an individual during a performance review, or to employees during a conflict resolution session, you want to focus on behaviors that can be changed rather than personalities that are static.

Imagine being told that your coworkers don’t like your attitude. What are you supposed to do with that? Now imagine being told that your coworkers don’t appreciate when you complain (loudly) to your friends on the phone about your current assignment and the people you have to work with.

Behaviors can be changed. Attacking a person’s personality is unproductive and will create more resentment.

  1. Identify where they agree and where they disagree.

Oftentimes, employee’s opinions aren’t that far off from one another. The bigger issue is that they aren’t listening to each other and taking the time to hear what the other has to say. This is where you come in. You can identify the points on which they agree and don’t agree, hear both arguments for the disagreements, and then move them towards a place of agreement.

  1. See conflict as an opportunity to improve.

When conflict arises, you may handle it quickly and expertly, but are you taking full advantage of the opportunity? You have a few options for making this a learning experience. These include:

  • Finding the source of the conflict and making changes to prevent it in the future.
  • Explaining the conflict resolution process to your employees as you walk them through it.
  • Using the disagreement to showcase opposing viewpoints and explain how different ideas and beliefs actually make the team stronger.

While conflict may seem like a negative at the time, opportunity rocks!

One of the most important aspects of conflict resolution in the workplace is to create an environment of open communication. If your employees are afraid to bring issues to you for fear of punishment or repercussions, you won’t know about conflict until it’s too late.

Let your employees know that you are there for them, that you are all a part of the team, and that conflict will be dealt with in a safe, non-judgmental space. When you truly learn how to handle conflict, your team will work together and achieve rockstar results.

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” Jimi Hendrix

Mark Kamp® aka Marvelless Mark® works with organizations who want their teams to achieve immediate rock star results. A Keynote Speaker/Entertainer/Author, Husband, Father, and child of God, his primary message, “Opportunity Rocks®” gives attendees a fresh new perspective on Sales, Marketing, and Employee Performance. Fun and engaging, Mark combines the success secrets of your favorite rock stars with just the right amount of entertainment to transform your employees into business rockstars. Learn more at www.OpportunityRocks.net.