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Tips to help in Navigating Workplace conflict

Conflict is simply defined as a sharp disagreement or opposition of interests or ideas. In any workplace where people are working together, conflict is a normal and natural occurrence. Workplace conflict tends to lower the team’s morale, increases absenteeism, and decrease productivity. There is a possibility that most of the time in a workplace; the supervisor takes most of the time to solve conflicts.

When talking about workplace conflict it is important to draw a distinction between unhealthy and constructive conflict.

  • Unhealthy conflict is personal and makes people feel that their self-worth is being attacked. This type of conflict reduces collaboration and engagement it causes stress.
  • Constructive conflict or opposition allows us to explore different viewpoints and make better decisions. A safe space is created and people are encouraged to discuss difficult issues without making them personal.

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  1. Why MSMEs are still winning in the Kenyan Economy.
  2.  Building trust within your organization.
  3. “SMEs are prime but not yet protected”- Experts say.

Sources of conflicts in the workplace.

Poor communication: different communication styles can lead to misunderstandings between employees and leaders, or between employees and supervisors. This drives conflicts.

Differing values: all workplaces are made up of individuals who see the world differently, conflict, in this case, occurs when there is a lack of understanding between these differences.

Differing interests: when employees are trying to work to their interest and not the companies interest or well-being. Conflicts may occur most of the time.

Scarce resources: Too often, employees feel they have to compete for available resources in order to do their job. In a resource-scarce environment, conflict can arise despite awareness of how scarce resources may be.

Personality clashes: All work environments are made up of differing personalities. Unless colleagues understand and accept each other’s approach to work and problem-solving, conflict may occur.

Poor performance: When one or more employees within a work unit are not performing or meeting their potential and this is not addressed, conflict is inevitable.

Tips to navigate workplace conflicts

  1. Don’t avoid it

Conflict in a workplace cannot be avoided; therefore employers and managers should be ready to tackle these issues immediately to prevent escalation. By acting promptly, you’re demonstrating that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and that your business is committed to its positive working environment policy.

  1. Establish an open and constant communication channel

Constructive communication is important. Should conflicts arise, equal opportunities are to be provided for either party to air their concerns. Employers or leaders need to set up a time and place for such a discussion without any outside interference or distractions, while also allocating adequate time for each party to tell their side of the story.

  1. Attack the problem not the person

When faced with a conflict, a good leader or manager should strive to put one’s emotions aside and choose to focus on the problem at hand objectively, keeping in mind to steer away from attacking anyone’s side or assigning blame. Even if you have certain opinions about any of the parties involved, remember to remain unbiased. It’s still the responsibility of the management to listen with an open mind and try to resolve the conflict in a fair manner

  1. Set rules that define acceptable and unacceptable behavior

For a workplace to function there has to be a set framework of rules in place. Leaders need to define what constitutes ‘acceptable behavior’ right from the beginning. This will help to have clearly defined job descriptions and business practices. Doing so will definitely help to put inline everyone’s expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page, so as to prevent any future misunderstandings that might lead to the rise of conflict.

  1. View conflict as opportunities.

Within each conflict is a learning opportunity for a company’s leaders and its employees. Use this and turn something bad into something that you can take advantage of; the key is to look beneath the problems and identify the potential for growth and development. Always try to encourage your employees to resolve their disagreements in constructive and innovative ways. The worst thing any leader can do is to ignore tensions or conflicts in an attempt to upkeep a false sense of harmony

Also Read:

  1. Advice for Small businesses to succeed in the new financial year.
  2.  Here’s how Business Owners will Benefit in a Saving culture.
  3. How SMEs can avoid being caught up by the ‘ Tentacles of CRB’

6. Listen More and Talk Less

Many workplace conflicts escalate due to a breakdown in communications. Active listening is a powerful tool that all management should be trained to use to the business’s advantage. Listening not only helps those involved feel listened to and understood, but it also means you can gather the right information and details which can bring a resolution to the conflict.

Mombasa, Kenya.

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