Conflict in the workplace is inescapable. Every business, from Fortune 500 companies to the mom-and-pop stores, experience some form of conflict in the workplace. It is estimated that in the U.S., over 2.8 hours per week are spent on resolving some form of conflict or disagreement.
Left unresolved, conflict can suck the life out of an organization, leaving management and team members angry, fatigued, frustrated and worried. In 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that over 72,675 charges for at-work discrimination had been filed. According to the 2020 Workplace Culture Report, it cost businesses over $223 billion in employee turnover due to management and workplace culture issues over a five-year period. Conflict can be costly, directly impacting the organizations overall bottom line.
Today’s businesses must have a zero-tolerance policy in place for any form of bullying, harassment or racism in the workplace. This includes having a solid plan for identifying, addressing and resolving conflicts and disputes. Beyond having procedures in place, it’s imperative that human resources and all levels of management are properly trained to successfully deal with and resolve conflict and disputes when they happen. When identifying workplace conflict, it’s important to remember there may be four different personality types at play: driver, expressive, analytical and amiable. Identifying these may assist you in resolving the conflict or dispute that exists.
Conflict can be presented in many different forms, but the top five reasons conflict and disputes occur in the workplace are different personality types; resistance to change; lack of effective communication; varying leadership styles; and prejudice, discrimination and racism. When dealing with conflict, human resources and/or management must understand how to deal with each situation differently, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to conflict resolution.
When addressing and dealing with conflict or a dispute, you must be mindful of your tone, words and actions. Go into the conversation with an open mind and without any bias, serving as a neutral party. Make sure to ask open-ended questions and ensure each party is heard, recognizing the 80/20 rule (listening 80% and only speaking 20% of the time). The end goal is to end the conflict and/or dispute and come to a resolution that is a win-win for both parties.