- Conflict is normal and can take place any time individuals and groups work together. However, because conflict in the workplace is sometimes viewed in a negative light, people managers may not manage it well. They may avoid addressing conflict altogether.
- People managers establish the norms for how conflict is handled on their teams and among their peers. During conflicts, people managers also act as coaches, observers, mediators, and – when necessary - intervene when conflict could cause harm or legal issues.
- Organizations need to support people managers as they build a culture of healthy conflict management on their teams, prepare for conflicts, navigate conflicts successfully, and help their direct reports learn to manage conflict.
- Conflicts range from simple misunderstandings to intense disagreements that could become crises. People managers need to be able to assess conflict situations, determine the appropriate role to play and approach to take, and be able to navigate different types of conflict in the workplace.
- No two conflict situations are alike. People managers must be able to understand the context in which a conflict is taking place, such as the setting and relationship dynamic. They must also be aware of the factors influencing those involved in the conflict, such as bias, preferences, and cultural norms and values.
- Conflict management doesn’t begin and end when the conflict does. It requires ongoing work, relationship building, communication, and building a sense of safety across a people manager’s team and relationships.
Impact and Result
- There are many benefits to successfully managing conflict in the workplace, including increased safety and trust, strengthened relationships, learning and development opportunities, innovation and diversity of perspective, better problem-solving and decision-making, and supporting a learning mindset.
- Providing managers with conflict resolution training can help organizations avoid the pitfalls of poorly managed conflict or conflict avoidance. These could be damage to relationships and team dynamics, reduced collaboration, costs to productivity, decreased motivation and engagement, or barriers to diversity of thought.
- As cultural leaders on their teams, people managers act as role models and coaches for their direct reports. Training people managers to learn and use successful conflict management strategies can help it become the norm on their team and across the organization.