In ‘Three Problems Managers Face and How To Fix Them – Part 1’, we discussed the major issues that stress managers out and looked at how to discuss poor employee performance with your employees, as well as how to deal with negative management behaviour. In this second part, we’ll look at one more issue managers face and reveal tips on how to fix it.
Handling Conflict or Hidden Conflict
Whenever you’re working with people and not robots, you’re bound to run into some level of conflict. Hopefully this is not a huge problem in your workplace, but it’s inevitable and in some cases, can actually be productive and healthy!
That’s right – a small amount of conflict can actually drive innovation and fuel productivity. If all staff are respectful and can debate topics, opinions and views, or discuss problems, in a non-aggressive way, they can become more creative and cooperative.
There needs to be balance though, because this can very easily tip the scales into conflict. This conflict can spread throughout the office and even into other areas of the business. That’s not even the worst thing that can happen. The most malicious type of conflict happens when it’s hidden or unnoticed by management. This hidden conflict ends up either erupting into a huge issue or can cause individuals to act in a negative manner that’s completely opposite to how they’d act within a normal work environment without conflict (i.e., they may physically lash out at someone else, hurt themselves or cause some other damage due to being at their wits end).
Hidden conflict is the most difficult to deal with because the conflict and reasons for it is usually totally unknown to management until things erupt. At that point, management only sees the (sometimes physical) reaction after a prolonged build-up and so can only act on what they have seen or are told. By the time this happens, the original ‘usually simple’ conflict has turned into a much more difficult and complex problem that will likely take a long time to defuse. Direct team leaders and managers may also be blamed for letting the situation get so bad.
There are a number of signs that indicate a conflict volcano is about to erupt. They include:
- Low productivity by one or more staff not due to increased workload. This could be caused by a division amongst work teams.
- A high turnover rate that can’t be attributed to any other reason.
- Multiple complaints about one or two specific staff members that might seem petty but indicate a more serious problem or ‘tit for tat’ situation.
How To Fix It
The most important step in preventing conflict is to nip it in the bud. Here’s how:
- It’s important that all staff members know how to identify conflict and can recognise the signs of hidden conflict.
- All staff members should be trained in basic conflict resolution and colleague support strategies so they can prevent/resolve conflicts they are themselves involved in and help colleagues with other conflict.
- All staff should have a clear understanding and ability to report any conflict (not just the conflict they are involved in) to managers.
- There should be a method of anonymous reporting available at all times.
- Organisations should commit to ensuring managers are trained in and coached with essential management skills and soft skills/interpersonal skills in order to manage staff and teams in an effective manner.
If you’re experiencing conflict within your organisation or are a manager who is stressed for any other reason, we can help. Give Emverio Workplace Solutions a call on 1300 414 179 or click here to visit our contact page.