How to resolve a conflict situation at work: breakdown of proven ways
Today we will consider how to solve a conflict situation within the team of an online store . Conflicts with competitors, partners we will leave for later – first let’s figure out what is going on inside your kingdom-state, and how to restore order there.
What is conflict?
In simple words – it is the resistance of the participants, and a conflict situation – a way to resolve differences, which is not expressed in a peaceful way. Usually, conflicts are accompanied by a surge of negative emotions.
Without conflict, communication is impossible. Even the best of relationships are put to the test. And in general, wherever there are at least two people – conflicts are inevitable, because each of them has different interests, goals and values. Even if everything is outwardly decency – no one beats each other’s faces and says hurtful words – inside people can boil passions. How to nip this volcano in the bud and decent way out of a conflict situation? And whether it is necessary to extinguish it – perhaps it is not a dead end, but a path to development?
How do you solve a conflict?
First of all, you need to understand the type of conflict (we’ll talk about this below), the reasons (what’s causing all the fuss), and get to work on fixing the situation.
There are three ways of resolving the conflict:
- Negative – the participants in the conflict do not give in to each other, the conflict worsens. Further aggravation of relations up to their rupture is possible;
- compromise – both parties make concessions and find a solution that satisfies them. The conflict is over;
- Constructive – the parties find a solution which leads to strengthening of relations.
It is clear that the third way is the most correct. In this case, conflict situations can no longer recur. In the first case, it is virtually impossible – the parties to the conflict will not stand for life, but for death. And even the second way is not a panacea – a compromise can work one or more times, but later ceases to satisfy both parties.
However, if the parties have a desire to resolve the conflict (and almost everyone has it, because few people like to be in a state of war. The only exception is the toxic employees who really enjoy quarrels and intrigues), then the chances of success are great. It is up to you as a leader and experienced manager to take on the role of peacemaker. So how do you do it?
Types of conflicts
There are several classifications of conflict (psychologists are very fond of laying everything out). We present the two main and consider how to act in the realities of the online store.
1. Interpersonal conflict
The most common type of conflict, in which a person and … a person . This can be two of your employees, who do not share a client or just a different type of world view. Or you and some employee yourself – whatever. Two characters, two personality types, two souls with their own beliefs and habits come together in this fight.
Examples of conflicts. You have hired a new manager and are surprised to notice that he has already made an enemy – another manager, a more experienced one. It’s simple: two strong salespeople can’t share territory. The experienced one is afraid that the newcomer will take away his customers, and he is, in general, rightly so. The newcomer zealously takes the job and shows every chance of becoming the leader. So what to do?
A less dramatic example. Two employees are sitting in the same office. One is used to cleanliness and carefully cleans his workplace. The other is a jolly wrecker who is always a mess. It is clear that these two will not find common ground, and will constantly fight over cleanliness.
And now about you. Imagine that you hired an employee and set him a fixed salary. He worked for some time and are dissatisfied: the time to raise, nasyasyalnya! You are vehemently opposed: let him work better, then we’ll talk. And he has his own truth: on such a salary can not live, and he still have a family to feed. And who is right?
How to resolve the conflict? Obviously, you need to choose a third way – namely, to bring people to a constructive. For example, in the first case clearly divide the base between managers – so no one is left offended. Hold a corporate event or training to rally the team. With the second example is even easier – establish a schedule of duty in the offices and monitor compliance with the rules. Particularly distinguished motivate: give nice little things, sweet gifts. And if it is up to you – offer the employee a real task: let him prove himself to his full potential, and then you will consider increasing his salary.
2. Conflict between a Person and a Group
One person confronts the rest of the group. Who is this person – a black sheep, a rebel-saboteur, or perhaps a cruel tyrant boss? There can be many variations – and there are several perpetrators of the conflict, too.
Examples of conflicts. First, let’s take an employee – in your quiet, lamplight department, you have a different dude. Maybe he’s a nerd, maybe a punk rocker – it does not matter. The main thing is that everyone else smells a stranger and is eager to deal with him – morally, of course. They boycott him, or subtly mock him, weave intrigues – you know, how the staff survive the unwanted. And maybe you are the black sheep? You came to the online store as a partner or manager, and faced with misunderstanding of the team?
How to solve the conflict? In the first case – very subtly and gently. If you openly take the side of the offended employee – it may not like the rest of the team. If along with all happy to harass the newcomer – we will not even write how unprofessional it is. So what to do? You’d be surprised, but all the same proven ways of team building help a lot. Another good idea is to unite people with one goal – for example, to start developing the company’s mission together. In the process of developing unobtrusively indicate that your team is no longer allowed any intrigue and office wars. Well, nothing prevents you from talking to the outcast – who knows, maybe this weirdo himself behaves the wrong way. You’re a manager, you better know the peculiarities of the psychological climate in the team. Explain what he does wrong and how to pick up the key to each colleague.
If the role of the outcast is you – oh, you are in for a long and painstaking work. You will have to gain the trust of the new team, to show your business and personal qualities. By no means flirt with your subordinates, don’t play your boyfriend – just do your job well and open up as a person – again, in moderation.
3) Intergroup Conflict.
Appears in relatively large organizations – entire departments may be feuding. For example, advertising department and content people, couriers and dispatchers – all those whose professional interests may overlap. But even a few packs of 2-3 people united by personal interests can really mess up the life of the boss.
Examples of conflicts. Advertising Department demands money for advertising campaigns – and the accounting department is against it. The former are confident: contextual advertising, targeting in social networks can bring the business more profit. But financiers can also be understood: it is scary to invest in a risky venture, what if it does not work out? And so it begins: slanted glances, gossip, taunts and reproaches…
Even scarier when the team winds up saboteur-provocateur, who skillfully manipulates people and creates warring factions. It can be as two equally strong warring groups of people, or several factions fighting against their superiors. In any case, such conflicts are like acid – corrodes the team from the inside.
How to solve the conflict? Decisively intervene and stop the outrage. Offer a constructive solution, or at least a compromise that will suit all. In the latter case – also neutralize the provocateur, to take out his sting, so that in the future he would not continue his subversive activities.
Conflicts are also divided into other types.
1. Conflict of notions
It would seem that a perfectly understandable task – work with the client. But one employee understands this concept as a full range of work – from the first contact to a personal meeting, while for another, the entire work consists of cold calls to customers. And each sure that he is right.
How to solve the problem? Give the employee clear directives and call things by their proper names. Be more specific and ask again. It’s better to clarify concepts right away so you don’t run into conflicts later.
2. Conflict of perception of reality.
Different people perceive the same situation differently. For example, in the store brought not very good quality goods at a bargain price. All your employees are calm about the situation. “Well, it happens,” they say, “he and the price is appropriate. But if an idealist appears in the team, he will take it as a personal insult and start a holy war.
How to decide? Rely on the facts, not the personal attitude of each employee. And not even your own. Understand that everyone is different, that everyone has their own principles, and listen to everyone. And then calmly explain better with facts and figures.
3. Conflict of roles.
Most often occurs at work, when one person has one role, another – another. And when a person does not like some role – begins discontent. For example: “I won’t do it, it’s not part of my job description.”
How to solve it? This conflict can be solved quite easily: a person must be clear about his role in the team. And one more thing: this role must be acceptable to him. If the job description includes things that are not very pleasant for a particular employee (eg, calling customers – it’s very difficult for an introvert) – it is better to change his role.
4. Conflict of styles
We have already written about leadership styles – about the same for every employee. Only he doesn’t lead anyone – he’s just used to being a leader, a dictator or a democrat. And if your styles do not coincide – there will be a conflict. A strong-willed man in a managerial position will never understand a soft liberal boss. Out of this misunderstanding can grow resentment and sabotage. So interpersonal conflict will lead to intergroup conflict.
How to solve it? Of course, you don’t owe anyone anything – and yet try to adjust to everyone. Show softness and hardness depending on the situation. But never show weakness and confusion – otherwise authority will be lost.
5. Conflict of interest
Perhaps the easiest type. Your employee wants a raise – it benefits him. You don’t want it – it doesn’t benefit you. One part of the employee wants to work on weekends and holidays (they will get double pay, why not to work hard?), and others have families, they do not want to sacrifice their personal lives in the name of work.
How do you decide? You can’t adapt to everyone – everyone’s interests are different. In this situation, it is better to come up with a constructive solution that everyone will appreciate. For example, to offer work on weekends only to those who agree to it. And pay decent wages for this work. This way the sheep will be whole and the wolves well fed.
6. Conflict of inner attitudes.
This is an intrapersonal conflict that takes place in the person’s soul, but at any moment can break free and drag other people into a conflict situation. For example, from the series of “you are Leo Tolstoy in words, but in practice you are a simple prick”. This often happens with employees who think they are the center of the world, the leader of the team, but in fact works as a simple secretary or junior salesman. Sooner or later dissatisfaction will spill out, and it does not like (and sometimes quite deserved) others.
How to solve it? In this case, a conversation of trust and personal effectiveness training will help. If you value the employee – try to understand his true aspirations and improve his performance, so that his dreams become a reality.
As you can see, you can solve almost any conflict situation. But the highest skill is to put it on a peaceful track, to offer a constructive solution. We believe you will succeed!
How to resolve conflicts in the team
If a company has no conflicts at all, it is dead. Conflicts are normal when there are not many of them. In most cases, employees are able to handle such situations on their own.
But what should an HR manager do if the team is in flames, people are divided into warring camps and are not ready for constructive communication? In short, it’s necessary to carry out prevention, so that such problems don’t arise. But when the “fire” has already flared up, it can be extinguished if you know how to do this.
We talked about conflict management in the organization with Alexandra Klimenko, the manager of Soft Skills Lab. Alexandra told us why employees quarrel most often, how to recognize and work with conflicts.
What we are going to talk about
Alexandra Klimenko, Soft Skills Lab Founder
What is a conflict and what happens if it is not solved
A conflict is a social interaction between parties to resolve contradictions in interests, goals and opinions. The important point is that in this case there is an attempt to change the informal part of social roles.
Here is an example of a typical conflict. A new manager comes into the company and does not have a good relationship with one of the experienced employees. Formally they are in the roles of “leader” and “subordinate”. But the employee is not happy with this arrangement, so he takes the position “I am the expert. And this manager has just arrived, he doesn’t know the rules, he doesn’t understand anything. So he should keep quiet and listen to what the professionals have to say. And now the roles have been reversed: from “manager and subordinate” to “inexperienced novice and expert”.
Unresolved conflict worsens the relationship between all participants, leads to the accumulation of negative emotions and can escalate. First, colleagues argue about the quality of the code, then they start to make mean jokes about each other. Then manipulation and personal attacks in the form of: “You’re irresponsible. Don’t you realize that you’re letting the whole team down?” And now people are already putting sticks in each other’s wheels and refusing to work together.
Friedrich Glasl described a model of escalating conflict:
It starts with mild tension, for example, if people’s opinions do not coincide. And it can end in the “together into the abyss” stage, when each side is willing to sacrifice itself to destroy the opponent.
Causes of conflict at work
Most often, conflicts arise because people do not cope with their own and other people’s emotions, do not know how to respect others and poorly protect their boundaries. We divide conflicts into 3 types:
- rational – an attempt to achieve a specific goal at the expense of conflict;
- manipulative – an attempt to change the social role of the interlocutor with the help of hidden pressure on emotions.
The external cause of conflict can be many typical situations within the company – I’ll tell you about them.
Tense atmosphere in the team provokes emotional conflicts. Somewhere employees clash because of the constant pressure of deadlines. And some companies even cultivate rivalry and competition.
At the same time, even in a comfortable environment, rational conflicts can arise. For example, one of the employees is fighting for a promotion or a bonus, believing that he deserves it more than the others. And his colleagues do not agree with such an opinion – you get a conflict.
Fighting for resources
Here, too, there are both emotional and rational conflicts. For example, when he joined the employee thought that he would be alone in control of the team and resources. But in reality he has to share them with a mass of stakeholders: he has no power or influence. He is very frustrated – there can be an emotional conflict.
Another example: there are 2 projects vying for a designer or devops resource. One team thinks it is more important and has more rights, the other disagrees. Here is the conflict.
In such a conflict, there is an attempt to change social roles. It is the change of roles from “experienced and effective” to “unreasonably risky and eternally wrong” shows the difference between the one who will be promoted and given the most interesting project, and the one who will be left out.
Conflict can be based on emotional as well as rational or manipulative reasons.
Most people don’t know how to give feedback – and that’s a big problem. They criticize and don’t praise, speak out about the person rather than their performance, use value judgments and harsh language – all of which can cause conflict.
Signs by which conflict can be identified
- Employees avoid topics and colleagues affected by the conflict. If people do not feel able to discuss the problem openly, the chance to resolve it quietly through dialogue is lost. The solution is postponed until the moment when it is no longer possible to tolerate – and then it will be more difficult to discuss, too much dissatisfaction has accumulated.
- Numerous emotional outbursts. Strong negative emotions are an indicator of problems. For example, it may turn out that people are nervous because of strict deadlines. If nothing is done about it, the stress will accumulate and lead to burnout.
- Panic fear of mistakes. Employees who are involved in protracted conflicts are afraid of making a mistake, because the opponent can take advantage of it. They prefer to do nothing to avoid taking risks.
- For fear of making a mistake, employees perceive bans better than advice or instructions. This is another indicator of conflict and tension in the team.
- Asynchrony of information. The organization may have a policy of restricting access to information, which provokes conflicts. And sometimes it’s done by employees themselves, who fear for their seats. They don’t want to share information because they see it as a guarantee of their value to the company.
Types of people’s behavior in conflict
Thomas Kilmann identified 5 patterns of behavior in conflict situations:
- Coercion – “my interests come first.”
- Cooperation – “let’s find a solution that works for everyone.
- Compromise: “I’ll give in here, and you give in here.
- Avoidance: “This is not a conflict, it’s none of my business.
- Adaptation – “whatever you say, we’ll do it.
In a conflict there is always
- the aggressor – intends to change his social role;
- The defensive side, which is fighting to maintain the status quo.
And these roles are conditional: the defending party can go on the counterattack in such a way that the aggressor has to fight back.
Who should resolve the conflict
Ideally, the conflicting parties themselves should solve the problem – if they can do it, it’s better not to interfere. If the employees fail to sort it out, the conflict will continue to progress until an HR manager or supervisor intervenes.
More often than not, the HR manager is neutral and acts as a mediator, helping the parties to find the cause and to hear each other. If necessary, the supervisor should step in and take the role of arbitrator.
Stages of dealing with a conflict
Now I will tell you step by step how to solve the conflict between employees.
Check for emotion
The first thing to do is not to sort out who is right, who is to blame and what happened, but to understand the nature of the conflict. If the conflict happened on emotional grounds, it is important to let the participants realize their emotions and cool down. As long as they are nervous, panicked or upset, a normal conversation will not work.
Often emotional conflicts resolve themselves if people become aware of their condition and get it under control.
Bringing in the constructive
If the emotions have subsided, but the conflict continues, then move the conversation to the rational plane and give your opponents the opportunity to speak. It is desirable to do this with the help of “me-messages”:
It is important for each side to express correctly what happened, what the problem is, and how to solve it. If the disputants simply do not understand each other, then already at this stage the confrontation will come to naught.
Analyze the causes
If this does not help, it is necessary to get to the root causes of the disagreement and work with them. It is important to get to the bottom of it: the participants in the conflict may not even realize what they are really fighting about.
It can be useful to break down the situation, clarify the expectations of the parties, and name possible reasons aloud. For example, Sasha and Vitya worked successfully on the same project. As a result, Sasha was promoted and became Vitya’s supervisor. And Vitya is offended, so he begins a conflict: “What kind of a boss are you? If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have been promoted.
Here it is worth clarifying the situation: “Vitya, you think that Sasha is to blame for the fact that you did not get a promotion? Do you think she owes you something? What do you see as the way out of this situation?” Usually the person realizes the absurdity of the ideas voiced, and the conflict stops.
Get the management involved.
If the HR person is unable to resolve the conflict, he or she should bring the problem to management. Many employees do not like to talk to managers, thinking that this is some kind of “tattling”. This attitude is fundamentally wrong and only leads to conflict escalation. Management will still find out about the problem, but it will have grown to the point where it cannot be ignored.
Don’t be afraid to involve managers: solving team conflicts is their job, too.
A conflict is over when the parties:
- Have voiced emotions and positions;
- have outlined their boundaries;
- jointly found an option where the boundaries of each party to the conflict are respected.
If you have acted according to the plan, by this stage the reasons for the conflict and the positions of the parties are already known. All that remains is to check with reality: is the cause eliminated, is it possible to organize the work so that all interests are respected. If so, there is no more conflict.
Sometimes the cause can be eliminated only by distancing the parties from each other. Employees are separated into different departments where they do not interact in any way, and therefore the reason for conflicts disappears. This too can be a solution, albeit not the most successful.
Resolved conflict is beneficial:
- Now you know how the team reacts to certain events, behaviors and emotions. It becomes clear which colleagues you can rely on in a difficult situation.
- Relationships between the participants in the conflict are strengthened if the situation is resolved fairly.
- Employees gain experience in dealing with conflicts and realize that it is not as scary and difficult as it seems.
- The conflict will not come back the way it was. It may turn into something else, but employees already understand how to deal with it.
Conflict prevention measures
Often the HR manager has to “put out fires” – to work with the consequences. The fact is that it is very difficult to detect conflict in its early stages. It takes a lot of experience to spot the beginnings of a problem before it escalates.
It’s much more effective to be proactive. And the easiest way to prevent conflicts is to give employees three rights at the level of corporate culture:
Other methods of conflict prevention in the organization:
- Train employees in conflict resolution: how to work with emotions, empathy, and correctly mark boundaries.
- Create specific channels and ways to resolve conflicts in the organization. Let’s say an employee has a conflict with a colleague – how should he or she act, who should he or she turn to if the problem cannot be resolved by his or her own efforts? It is useful to encourage feedback not only from the head to the employee, but also between colleagues, as well as from the bottom up – from employees to management.
- Work on corporate culture. It is important to build an atmosphere of trust, where employees will not be under constant stress and may not be afraid to make mistakes.
Typical mistakes when dealing with conflicts
Intervening too early.
Employees could have resolved the relationship on their own, but then a supervisor bursts in and starts “managing the conflict. This kills all independence and teaches helplessness: next time employees will wait for the judge without trying to negotiate on their own.
Get rid of “conflicting” employees
It would seem that everything is elementary: you need to remove the person around whom conflicts arise. In practice, the opposite happens: the employee is fired, but the team continues to fracture. The problem was not the person.
The buzz around a single employee, especially if he recently joined the company, can be an indicator of problems. When there are many hidden conflicts in the team, people don’t share information, don’t want to take the initiative, and are afraid to make decisions for fear of making a mistake.
And then a new employee comes in who is alien to the culture of fear and overcautiousness. He speaks openly about the problems, voicing everything that he does not like. Naturally, the “brazen outsider” is greeted without fanfare – conflicts immediately arise around him. But if the company thinks that the problem is with the newcomer, and rushes to get rid of him, they make a mistake. So a swamp is formed where only manipulators and opportunists survive instead of the team.
Imposing a solution to the conflict
The mediator’s job is not to push his vision through, but to help the parties hear and understand each other’s positions, to find mutually beneficial terms. Instead, the administrator or manager begins to give advice, to press with their experience, to force the parties to a certain solution – this is a common problem.