No matter what kind of business you run, there's bound to be conflict. If you allow conflict to go unresolved, it has the potential to lead to unhappy employees, employee turnover, lackluster production and even expensive lawsuits. You may be surprised to know that studies indicate that up to 40 percent of a manager’s day is spent managing conflict. It’s easy to see then, how important it is to do it well. Your ability to create a healthy environment for your employees and avoid the issues stated above, is what affirms your business as a good place to work.
You may recall an episode from NBC’s “The Office” in which two employees were engrossed in a dispute. Oscar didn’t like looking at his coworker Angela’s cat posters. To resolve the situation, World’s Best Boss, Michael Scott, ordered Oscar to wear a shirt featuring cats, which he wouldn’t be able to see, yet Angela would be able to look at and enjoy. Michael dubbed it a “win-win-win” solution, but of course nobody really won and nothing was really resolved.
While the above example comes from a sitcom, it gives a good picture of what not to do to resolve conflict in the workplace. Nothing was truly resolved, leading to unhappy employees, a drained workforce, and workers that had lost their last ounce of respect for their boss. Resolving conflict in a timely, amicable matter keeps issues from draining the energy of your workforce.
So just how do you manage conflict? That’s a loaded question, the answer to which is arguably easier said than done – but a good start is to implement a conflict management system into the human resources department of your company.
Creating a conflict management system that actually helps
What’s a conflict management system? It’s a customized solution designed to manage and support an organization when it incurs conflict, whether that conflict is internal (wrongful termination, sexual harassment, employee resistance, etc.) or external (disputes with suppliers). With a good system, conflict cases are streamlined in a manageable, web-based format so that each particular case can be easily accessed and processed by the human resources manager in order to analyze the details and more quickly come up with a resolution.
Here are some other features of a good management system:
- Cases can be automatically routed to the appropriate parties following the start of a new case.
- Customized workflow to determine next steps in the process.
- Enhanced collaboration, as conflict cases are streamlined so that the appropriate people can act on them.
- Secure: Cases are only available to the appropriate people, not to everyone.
- Efficiency: Remember that 40 percent number from the beginning? A more efficient conflict management system will ideally reduce that time allotment and allow managers to focus on more important things – like running their business.
Ideally, the end goal of a successful conflict management system is to resolve issues efficiently and amicably, so that employees can continue to do their jobs and so that production doesn’t suffer.
Like we said at the beginning, conflict is unavoidable wherever you are and especially at work. As a business manager, make sure to implement a strategy that will address it in the best possible way.