Water Well Journal

July 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/529509

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Page 53 of 83

C onflict exists in every company—and, surprising as it may seem, to a certain extent indicates a healthy exchange of ideas and creativity. However, counterproductive conflict can result in em- ployee dissatisfaction, reduced productivity, poor service to customers, worker absenteeism, and increased employee turnover. Conflict can also lead to work-related stress or litigation based on claims of harassment or a hostile work environment. In addition to the productivity and cost benefits of timely conflict resolution, morale is higher when employees believe there is a fair and consistent process for dealing with conflict that goes beyond their immediate supervisor. A conflict resolution policy should promote open commu- nication and foster a safe environment for addressing differ- ences of opinions. The policy should be a clear statement that protects employees from retribution for raising legitimate complaints or concerns when they use the conflict resolution process. Conflict resolution policies and procedures often create a progression of interventions, escalating the involvement of management and formal procedures based on the seriousness of the conflict and the inability of the parties to resolve their differences on their own. Legal Requirements Harassment can be a source of conflict, and organizations have a legal responsibility to provide a harassment-free work- place. While a conflict resolution policy may provide a first step in dealing with harassment, companies typically address harassment complaints with a policy and set of procedures that are specifically designed for that purpose. Common Contributors to Conflict When you're dealing with conflict in the workplace, con- sider the underlying causes. Conflict is rarely as simple as it seems on the surface. Problems at work are often caused—or made worse—by the following examples. ● Ambiguous roles and responsibilities: Being vague with an employee about their job and the tasks associated with their duties creates a situation where the employee is left to decode your expectations. Create clear directives that include who, what, when, where, and why so that an employee doesn't trip over coworkers just trying to get their job done. ● Assumptions and expectations: Ask open-ended ques- tions to see whether an employee is filling in details based on their past experiences (both on the job and in their per- sonal life) or whether they're seeing something you're not. ● Core values not being met: Determine what is most important to an employee by uncovering their values. Use that insight to help create long-lasting solutions based on what will satisfy all parties involved. ● Emotions hijacking conversations: When emotions are high, reasoning is low. Let things calm down and only then approach employees to discover what caused the reaction in the first place. ● Gossip and cliques: Cliques form in the workplace for any number of reasons—some good, some bad. Whatever the motivation employees have for attaching themselves to coworkers, realize the attachment has both positive reper- cussions (learning from others' experience and mentoring) and negative repercussions (leading to workplace gossip). ● Miscommunication or vague language: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Avoid using language like "When you get to it" and "Whatever you think." Leaving things to an employee's imagination can make for some pretty imaginative interpretations. Methods of Conflict Resolution Methods of conflict resolution can and should be included in your organization's policy and procedures. Here are some methods that should be included. An informal complaint process: The informal process involves talking about and discussing the issue with an im- mediate supervisor to jointly understand and resolve work- related issues with coworkers or the supervisor. The policy and procedures may outline specific steps and objectives, communication styles, and behaviors employees and super- visors should use to effectively resolve conflicts. ALEXANDRA WALSH CONFLICT RESOLUTION Have a conflict resolution policy so issues don't impact productivity. PEOPLE AT WORK 52 July 2015 WWJ waterwelljournal.com Consider the underlying causes. Conflict is rarely as simple as it seems on the surface.

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