Workplace conflict costs industries $359 billion annually. To address this costly problem, most organizations simply look to their employees and demand that they get along and act civilly or threaten to reprimand. However, most conflicts should be circumvented or resolved by leaders and managers, not by employees themselves.
Statistics and studies continue to prove that peaceful or productive work settings start with a leadership team’s tone and dynamics and what the team does well or doesn’t do well. To ensure your organization’s leaders set the right tone for their teams and that they’re adept at conflict resolution and management, here are a few best practices you’ll want to follow.
1. Train Leaders in Servant Leadership
Servant leaders often resolve conflicts before they surface, as they are extremely observant and receptive to their teams’ and individual employees’ concerns. They also applaud work that’s well done and support their employees so that those employees can succeed individually while focusing on not only their individual strengths but also overarching organizational goals that need to be reached.
Essentially, servant leaders prevent conflict from arising in the first place because their tactics don’t breed jealousy or resentment, and when conflict does arise, servant leaders are highly adept at actively listening to the concerns of others and addressing them in an empathetic and practical way.
2. Upskill Leaders in Emotional Intelligence
Emotionally intelligent leaders foster better communication in the workplace and among their employees. They are skilled at quelling heated disagreements and work to build positive rapport among employees, as well as encourage employees to do the same.
For more insight, read “4 Reasons Why Your Employees Need Emotional Intelligence Skills” and “Step-by-Step: Ways to Train for Emotional Intelligence,” Part 1 and Part 2.
3. Provide Mediation When Necessary
Sometimes, leaders will have conflicts with employees themselves or other leaders. In such cases, they might need a mediator to help them resolve their conflicts. An unbiased outside party should help them navigate their conflicts whenever possible.
4. Encourage Leaders to Be Transparent
To avoid conflicts that arise from feelings of resentment or jealousy, encourage leaders to have open-door policies and to adopt values of transparency. For example, a conflict is less likely to arise when employees can talk to their manager directly about why someone received a desirable project instead of them, why an employee received a raise instead of them, and so on.
Positive transparent communications breed trust, and conflicts don’t typically arise among individuals who trust one another.
Avoid the exorbitant costs associated with conflict in the workplace, and keep the best practices above in mind as you work to train your organization’s leaders in conflict resolution and management.