Minimizing Conflict in the Workplace
Understanding the Importance

I read in a recent article, “Workplace conflict is inevitable when employees of various backgrounds and different work styles are brought together for a shared business purpose. Conflict can—and should—be managed and resolved. With tensions and anxieties at an all-time high due to the current political divide and racial inequity discussions at work, the chances for workplace conflict have increased.”

It’s an eye-opening truth that affects all of us. In the aftermath of events such as the death of George Floyd and the movements that took place thereafter, it shed a lot of light on organizations that lacked values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and being open to policy changes. As a result, policies such as workplace conflict became an important piece of the puzzle to not only revise, but continuously review.

When discussing this policy, it’s important to think about flexibility while addressing it through direct communication and ensuring it constantly remains up to date with open dialogue between HR and employees. It also needs to align with anti-bullying views, minimal conflict, and be addressed in all areas from mediation and arbitration to performance reviews. At the same time, performance reviews are a key part of allowing employees the opportunity to provide feedback and be heard. Organizations must insert more opportunities to truly listen to their people and allow for truth-telling in safe spaces.

Psychological Safety

Conflict is natural amongst humans and can arise in many areas, at any time, for any reason. Whether that be between two individuals, an entire team, or even to certain groups. Therefore, organizational leaders must create psychological safety amongst employees. Creating this safety builds trust and comfort, allowing them to speak their truth.

By definition, psychological safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status, or career. This would include speaking up about concerns in the workplace, having questions about a project, or even bringing forth new ideas. So allowing individuals to show up each and every day, being their full selves, allows a commonality of respect to be on the table. That comfort can’t exist without mutual respect.

How Can I Manage Conflict?

Not only is it important to keep workplace policies up to date, but it’s crucial to be sure all of your employees have proper knowledge of the topics. This is especially critical for those who hold titles and will be dealing with it firsthand. Ensuring proper training is implemented to not only spot conflict but also resolve it effectively will be an integral part of maintaining expectations. Those who turn the other cheek and choose to ignore conflicts as they begin or come to a head will eventually find themselves in a situation they don’t want to be in or, even worse, facing a lawsuit.

Most conflicts stem from the inability for an employee to be heard or out of frustration, so building trust and openness within that environment in a positive way allows us to create that psychological safety and make people feel cared for. That open communication that you’re approachable but direct will create a foundation of trust within your team. We all want to be heard, respected, and safe. So let’s take the step forward as caring organizations and be the positive change.