We all know that conflict tends to heat up the workplace from time to time. Even the best-run ship will have conflict over many different issues.
Here are four of the best strategies good managers can use to improve workplace relationships.
1. The Open-Door Policy
Open-door policies are in place for a reason. They help to provide access to rank-and-file employees for offering feedback and suggestions. But they are also a kind of release valve for some types of tensions, and that includes grievances between two people.
An open door policy will effectively catch problems before they turn into bigger ones. It will give a chance for those who are offended or angry about someone else’s behavior to take their problems directly to management, and to explore them with someone else rather than bottling their feelings up in ways that will turn out badly later on.
Some of the best companies have specific protocols for documenting workplace conflict at every stage and at every level. This same type of documentation works for HR departments that need to eventually justify termination or suspension of an employee.
Actually, these two goals go hand-in-hand: with good documentation, it’s easier for managers who may not always be on-site to have an understanding of just how much discomfort or commotion an individual employee is causing over time.
3. Team Processes
Teamwork and team building is also an opportunity to stem conflicts. Different types of teamwork force people to be transparent and open about how they work together with others. Sometimes, simmering conflicts can come to the forefront in a teamwork environment. Managers can then address the issues head-on, instead of waiting for it to blow up later.
4. Promoting Positivity and Realism
Lots of businesses invest in promoting positivity, but without realism, this can seem like a charade. Some companies have moved from an initial process of creating customer service champions or otherwise dressing up the ways that people interact in the workplace and qualifying these kinds of promotions into things that make sense for the workforce.
If hard work is acknowledged and management shows respect for individuals, employees are more likely to speak out and handle conflict constructively, rather than lashing out.
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