Perhaps one of the most sensitive challenges managers and business owners can navigate is conflict within their team. Whether it's a clash of personalities, differing creative visions or continued issues with a talented but short-tempered employee, there are many ways that tension can arise at work.
Failing to resolve work conflict expediently can be extremely detrimental both for the welfare of your employees and overall health of the business. But while this is often a tricky prospect, adopting corporate wellbeing strategies can make it far easier to move forward productively and cooperatively from any issues that arise.
The causes of workplace conflict
Even if you have gone out of your way to build a harmonious team, sometimes situations or behaviours can create friction and disrupt the day-to-day running of your business. Generally speaking, there are three main areas in your business which can become a source of conflict, which are:
The relationships between your employees
For the most part, people tend to behave very accommodatingly to each other when they are in a professional environment, but it would be unrealistic to expect an atmosphere of kinship and cooperation 100% of the time. The workplace can play host to everything from trivial annoyances to long-running rivalries, and with workmates sharing each others company for so much of their time, it’s no wonder that things can occasionally boil over.
Your customers, clients or contractors
Businesses and organisations usually have no issue in dealing with demanding clients - in fact, they can help people maintain high-standards and reflect on areas of improvement - but sometimes “demanding” slips over into “unreasonable”. There are also times where it is hard to achieve a good working relationship with the other businesses you operate alongside, which can be especially difficult if you are paying for a B2B service.
Your management style
You’re only human and people management can be difficult at times, so if there’s repeated conflict in the workplace and it’s hard to pinpoint the source, it may be your management style that’s to blame. It’s good to ask yourself whether your manner could be interpreted as brusque, or whether you often move the goalposts as to what you expect. Even something as simple as conducting endless meetings or engaging in micromanagement can cause tension.
How corporate wellbeing strategies can help
Whatever the source of workplace conflict, as a manager or leader, it is your job to both rise above and resolve it. Utilising the reasoning and procedures behind corporate wellbeing is a helpful way to achieve this aim. We are far more likely to become angry and have less control over ourselves if we feel like we are under intense pressure - and stress is the aggravator of many tense situations.
For your team
While you should always enforce and expect your team to live up to professional standards - even if they don’t get on with someone - you can make it far easier for them by being mindful of the influence of stress, anxiety and heavy workloads.
You can consider introducing a meditation program or subsidize the use of a meditation app. There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of regular meditation, which includes a significant reduction in stress, greater emotional regulation and anger management, and more confidence. All these benefits can help your staff to navigate conflict deftly and without your intervention.
You should also take into account the working practices which may be exacerbating a combative atmosphere in your workplace. Do you pit staff against each other or reward team performance? Is the workload unmanageable? Is there a member of your team being “carried”, to the resentment of everyone else? A commitment to fairness and the promotion of a healthy work/life balance will go a long way to address these issues.
For your clients and those you work with
As you don’t have a direct influence over the behaviour of people outside of your organisation, it’s vital to set boundaries when dealing with other people and businesses. Boundaries are a key component of good corporate wellbeing - for example, by not allowing employees to work through their lunch break and ensuring that no one answers emails during their annual leave. The boundaries needed for clients and associates will be slightly different, but no less important.
By setting strict guidelines as to what you will and will not tolerate you can make sure a situation doesn’t spiral into something toxic and acrimonious. Putting a stop to excessive demands, rudeness or dishonesty in the first instance can be achieved by politely but firmly explaining that, going forward, this behaviour will not be accepted.
Being ultimately responsible for the success of your team or organisation can be hugely stressful, so you should make sure that you personally enact the corporate wellbeing strategies you promote amongst your staff. You might not always get the same clear-cut working hours you should encourage elsewhere, (weekends and evenings tying up loose ends are sometimes inevitable) but you should try to give yourself one entirely work-free day a week - and make sure you take holidays.
Using self-care practices such as meditation, exercise or even just relaxing in the bath at the end of a long day is also a big component of being a great leader and manager. If you feel less under strain, you will find it easier to be calm and empathetic in every situation, and you can also assess the processes you’ve put in place without your thoughts becoming clouded by stress. With this clarity, it’s easier to tweak whatever needs to be tweaked, and ultimately make your workplace a focused but friendly place to be.
We welcome your opinions and feedback to articles that appear in Mad World News. Please send comments and suggestions to email@example.com. We also invite editorial contributions for future editions of Mad World News. Guidelines for contributions can be found here.