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Archive for managing conflict

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ~ Thomas Paine

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “What are some tips for managing conflict in the workplace?” This is because most managers want to know how to fend off major issues before they escalate. And even in the most congenial work environment, conflicts will occur. But this doesn’t have to create a sense of impending doom! When you effectively use the energy from conflicts in the workplace they also have the ability to transform your problems into opportunities. In fact, by incorporating the following steps your conflicts can become more manageable and take your problem solving methods to a whole new level.

Cool Heads Prevail During Times of Conflict in the Workplace

Conflicts get messy and complicated when they are steeped with emotion. Why? Both sides are passionate about their point of view and want to win! When someone is personally invested in winning they tend to lose sight of everything else. If things get too heated, this is when business relationships can be severely damaged. Bringing both sides together to discuss issues in a reasonable way will allow solutions to flourish. Additionally, separating the person from the issue will encourage discussion rather than arguments and debates.

When Managing Conflict in the Workplace, Encourage Proactive Problem Solving

When your employees start focusing on proactive solutions that’s when conflicts start to fade and problem solving thrives. Encourage and listen to all ideas and solutions. Create an environment that supports teamwork and discourages superficial criticism. If someone does drift back to their original position, ask them why other options couldn’t be considered. This gives each person a chance to carefully consider their proposals in an objective way.  When managing conflict in the workplace, the more reasonable you are in finding solutions, the better opportunity you will have in garnering a compromise.

Objectively Analyze the Situation

It’s easy to have lots of ideas but finding out how viable they are usually takes extensive research. Ask your employees to get more details about costs, timelines and contingency plans. This will also give them the ability to see if a particular process is possible while they are looking for the best solution. Encouraging your employees to fill in these details also fosters ownership of the process. As they gain perspective, some of their original objections will be resolved and lose their power in preventing progress.

Find Out What Works and Build From There

As employees go through the conflict resolution process they will discover that cooperation is the best path towards successful results. When they demonstrate good teamwork, tell them specifically what actions you appreciate. Giving this consistent and positive feedback will likely guide them into a mindset that thinks more about the team and less about their own interests. If they get off track a bit, then point out why the goal of resolving the issue is important to the organization.

As a motivational speaker, I see many employees who think they are a team when in fact they are just a work group. They haven’t been coached into a “we” mentality. One of the keys to successfully managing conflict in the workplace is steering them away from the “me” mindset.

Have a Definite Resolution

You might encounter a situation where multiple solutions are equally good. However, if they all can’t be implemented then a choice has to be made. Often, your leadership position gives you the advantage of knowing what upper management would support. Once the final choice is made, briefly explain your reasons to your employees and stick to your decision. When managing conflict in the workplace, consistency is key. Unresolved conflicts will keep things unsettled, you’ll appear passive, and nothing will move forward. Even if the final choice isn’t celebrated by everyone, at least it gives closure to the conflict and that will be appreciated by the majority.

Managing conflict in  the workplace isn’t easy, but with your assistance it can ultimately create a more cooperative, cohesive atmosphere for everyone!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert, Motivational Speaker

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and motivational keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows across the country and has written more than 40+ popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 fun and entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690 in Portland, Oregon.

You don’t lead by hitting people over the head–that’s assault, not leadership. ~Dwight Eisenhower

The first day a new employee arrives at your office is often mixed with excitement and uncertainty. And you both want the same result — success. But this will only happen if you use your effective leadership skills to initiate the groundwork for developing their unique talents. Starting out on the right foot will give your employee the blueprint they need to be a top contributor and you the reassurance they are following the right path.

Here are five of the most effective ways to start achieving success beginning with their first day:

Make Your Expectations Clear and Detailed

Nothing will make your employee happier than knowing where you stand. Remember, they are working at your company to help you! But in order to achieve your goals they need to know what success looks like in your eyes. During that first meeting be clear about their role in the company, what you are trying to achieve and when it all needs to be accomplished. Don’t be vague. Set clear standards from the beginning and give your employee specific examples they can follow. It will take time to put in this extra effort but you’ll be laying a solid foundation to get the results you really want. In my leadership seminars, one of the most common takeaways is managers realizing they need to set more quantifiable standards for their employees.

Provide a Way to Give and Receive Feedback

Feedback is crucial to ensure the quality of the work you receive. As you are working with your new hire tell them what works well and how they can improve. As the boss, you have the advantage of knowing when something hasn’t worked before and how to quickly resolve those issues. Also, when your employee has questions or concerns tell them how to approach you. Do you have an open door policy? Or do you prefer getting all of their questions in a single email. Determine what process works best for you and clearly communicate your preferences so they can be implemented. It’s one of the secrets to practicing effective leadership.

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Conflicts come with every project and how you handle it will determine how smoothly things are resolved. Encourage your employees to solve smaller conflicts on their own and be supportive when they need additional leadership from you. When managing conflict in the workplace, actively listen to their concerns and urge their input for a resolution to the situation. If other people are providing the conflict, arrange for a group meeting to discuss the various issues and find common ground. Most importantly, show your employee they have your full support for resolving difficult situations and also troubleshooting any future issues. It’s one of the keys to successfully managing conflict in the workplace.

How to Appreciate and Encourage Employees

Effective leadership means not only pointing out the problems but also the successes. A thoughtful thank you goes a long way to show that you appreciate your employee’s efforts. Being specific about what you liked about their work will inspire the same results later. Additionally, acknowledge when they overcome difficult situations so they can see that you empathize with their struggles. Any opportunity you have to publicly acknowledge their success or give them a special award will also encourage others on your team to achieve similar results. Over time give employees the opportunity to lead and encourage others by becoming a group leader on future projects.

Motivating and Inspiring Employees Toward Top Results

Every employee has a special skill or ability they enjoy doing. It is usually some task they would like to do even if they weren’t  getting paid! It takes effective leadership skills to determine what these abilities are and to assign them to the right person. If you have the choice to give an accounting task to someone who likes doing math problems in their spare time, why not encourage them to crunch some numbers for you? Maybe they would like to get their degree and pursue this type of work in the future. Finding the balance between what is beneficial for your company and the future aspirations of your employee will help both of you achieve success.

Engaging these strategies will help assure the first day with your new employee will be one of many that encourage a solid working relationship that can build and develop in the future!


About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert, Motivational Speaker

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and motivational keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows across the country and has written more than 40+ articles on diverse workplace issues. She has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries.

She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen can assist your organization with successful leadership development through her keynotes, seminars, and workshops. Be sure to visit for details or call (623)340-7690 in Portland, Oregon.