How to Confront Conflict in the Workplace
CIOs and other managers too often focus on the personalities involved with a dispute instead of root causes, research shows.
When problems are dismissed or ignored, they fester and grow into bigger problems.
Only if you make assumptions—which could make a bad situation worse. Proceed to resolve heated disputes in a fair, impartial manner.
Bad behavior certainly contributes to the situation. But it’s usually an outcome of the cause—which is often rooted in bad communications, unclear goals, etc.
This follows the theory of “position-based bargaining.” But such thinking detracts attention from the real problem and delays the implementation of a solution.
As a CIO, it’s your job to develop employees to the point where they can respond to—and resolve—conflict.
If you get agitated in confronting conflict, everyone else will get agitated. If you’re at ease, you’ll defuse tension and start a constructive dialogue.
Involved parties are more likely to engage if you inquire using phrases such as “I’d like to know how you feel about …” or “Would you be kind enough to provide to me examples of how …”
Encourage involved employees to avoid emotionally charged accusations and focus on factually driven essentials that drive to the root cause.
When you specify policies and expectations in a clear manner—both verbally and in writing—you pre-emptively eliminate many causes of conflict.
Not all conflict is destructive. In a highly collaborative environment, debate inspires innovation. So encourage team members to challenge each other while maintaining professional decorum.