Increase productivity in the workplace
Conflict creates workplace tension, and that can reduce productivity. Research shows that 70-80% of all conflicts in organizations stem from strained relationships between employees. The typical manager or supervisor will spend about 20% of his/her time dealing with conflicts between employees. According to Ernst and Young, the cost to terminate and replace an employee could run as much as 75-100% of the employee’s salary.
Many times un-resolved conflict leads to employee termination, separation and sometimes litigation. According to the Rand Corporation, in 2011 the average amount spent by companies in defending wrongful termination lawsuits was about $100,000 per case. So, it is a good business practice to develop conflict management and resolution skills. These skills will save you money and allow for a happier more productive workforce.
Let’s look at seven basic conflict management skills that work on reducing conflict:
Skill Set One– Understand that conflicts are a natural part of all relationships. Whenever you get people together there will be disagreements. This can be especially true in high stress jobs.
Skill Set Two– Know why conflicts arise. Conflicts usually arise out of people’s misunderstanding of an issue, their needs, or their desire to be understood. But the ways in which individual needs are met may be much different. Combine this with different personality styles and you will have recipe for conflict.
Skill Set Three- Conflicts will grow if not managed. Because conflicts involve perceived threats to our well-being and survival, they stay with us until we face and resolve them.
Skill Set Five– Conflicts are opportunities for growth. Managing and solving conflict builds trust among people. It also creates a foundation for future disagreements.
Skill Set Six– It is important to manage stress and emotions. Controlling emotions will allow you to communicate without threats or arguing.
Skill Set Seven– Non-verbal communication can be just as important as verbal communication. Communication experts tell us most of communication is non-verbal. Watch your facial expression, hand movements and bodily language.
Now that we have laid a foundation, let’s talk about some conflict management resolution strategies.
- Develop effective listening and nonverbal communication skills. If you are able to listen to people they will see that. Often, it helps to repeat what the person said in your words.
- Always communicate in a positive manner. Try not to judge.
- Make the conflict management process more about resolution rather than winning. Remember that building relationships can create long term business success.
- Focus on the here and now. It may not be necessary to bring up past issues, unless there is a behavioral pattern.
- Don’t generalize. Word like “always” or “never” should not be part of the conversation.
- Use a third party or mediator when necessary. Always communicate in a positive manner.
- Find common ground. There’s almost always something you can find on which the two employees in conflict can agree. This is a critical step in rebuilding lost rapport and creating a platform for problem solving.
- Attack the issue not the person. Your concerns and points will be heard more clearly if you can keep to the facts without pointing out personal issues.
In the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, the author identifies five areas that undermine a team. These are:
1) Absence of trust. If the members of the team do not trust each other, then they cannot be totally honest with each other.
2) Fear of conflict. Without trust people will not have the healthy debates that are necessary to arrive at better thought through decisions.
3) Lack of commitment. If the teams have not aligned behind a decision then the individual members who did not agree with the final decision will ultimately be less committed to that decision.
4) Avoidance of accountability. If they are not committed to the course of action, then they are less likely to feel accountable (or hold other people accountable).
5) Inattention to results. Consequently, they are less likely to care about the group results (and instead focus on achieving their own goals).
To build a strong team and effective culture we suggest using these dysfunctions in a positive way. Build trust, allow healthy debate, encourage commitment, be accountable, and pay attention to results.
As business owners and managers increasing productivity in the workplace is critical for success. Learning how to manage difficult employees will help your efforts in keeping your team productive.