There are many types of conflict in the workplace that you will need to deal with. By far the most frequently and certainly most challenging are Personality conflicts.
However, there are four others worthy of mentioning before we take a deeper at one of the ways you can minimize the negative impact of personality clashes.
1. Interdependence Conflicts.
These types of conflict happen when a person relies on someone else's co-operation, output or input in order for them to get their job done. For example, a sales-person is constantly late inputting the monthly sales figures, which causes the accountant to be late with her reports.
Interdependence conflicts can often be easily overcome by ensuring that people have a good handle on delegation skills (yes you can delegate across and up, not just down); that people are well trained in how to have challenging conversations, that consequences (natural and imposed) are used (for example the sales person who is late with his or her input could have a bonus reduction).
Download "How to Get It Done, Done Well, Done On Time" to fine-tune your delegation skills (Take the quiz on this page to test your delegation capability).
Interdependence conflicts are less likely to look like personality conflicts, whereas the next three can, and do, regularly look like personality conflicts ...
2. Differences in Style.
People's preferred way for getting a job done can differ. For example, one person may just want to get the work done quickly (task oriented), while another is more concerned about making sure that everyone has a say in how the work gets done (people oriented).
You can hose down a lot of potential conflict when you have been trained in how to understand, and successfully navigate your way through style differences, (and make no mistake, style differences often lead to personality conflicts).
Recently I was coaching a client who was complaining about a colleague, who had taken 5 minutes to run his eyes over her report (that she had spent 20 hours compiling), and then immediately started pointing out to her things that she hadn't got quite right.
Talk about angry!
She said to me, 'How dare he glance over it for 5 minutes and then provide an opinion on it. He hardly has enough background to make such broad sweeping judgments. He IS impossible, and I'm just going to have to tell my boss that I just cannot work with him'.
I reminded her of the DISC webinar, she had recently attended with me, and she 'got' straight away that this was a 'style' conflict.
Her preferred style (Steadiness), likes time to think things through before making a well considered comment and/or decision. His preferred style (Dominating), means he makes fast decisions and offers opinions freely. Once we had taken it back to differences in style, she clearly saw a way to discuss with him his response to her work, and how they could use each other's styles to work more effectively together.
3. Differences in Background/Gender.
Conflicts can arise between people because of differences in age, educational backgrounds, personal experiences, ethnic heritage, gender and political preferences. Listen to an interview I did with Barbara Annis on gender diversity and inclusiveness.. There are some great tips in the interview to help you make the most of gender differences.
4. Differences in Leadership.
Leaders have different ways of leading their teams. Team members who have to deal with different leaders throughout a day, can become confused and irritated by these different ways of being led. For example, one leader may be more open and inclusive, whilst another may be more directive.
Is it a luxury to spend money on teaching people how to resolve conflict? Absolutely not. High performance organizations are very aware of the need to train people in the 'soft' skills and spend significant portions of their budget on developing people's social skills.
When you and your people, learn and master the skills to deal with any type of conflict in the workplace, you will be far happier and far more productive.
The beautiful thing is that this type of training is a gift that keeps on giving - not only in the workplace but into the wider community. Sadly most people never truly learn the art of resolving differences and turning them into successful conversations; which can trap them in a life of angst, negativity and bitterness.
You may also like to watch this fast 5 minute video, which contains tips on how to minimize conflict in the workplace, along with information about the resources you can access at the Make A Dent Club that will help you improve your skills in this area. Click on the play button just below here.
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