Conflict in the workplace is bound to happen at some point or another. When a group of people get together in close quarters, differing opinions and thoughts are inevitable. The good news is, these differences can enhance creativity and build teamwork if conflicts are addressed early. This can also help prevent larger issues from blossoming.
The best thing to do before trouble arises is to know the sources of conflict. There are a few big areas to be aware of when looking for the source: Interpersonal, organizational, change and external factors. These larger areas encompass issues including lack of clarity, power struggles, conflicts of interest, and limited resources. Here are a few tips when addressing each of these areas of conflict:
Interpersonal: Interpersonal conflicts typically start with rumors or gossip in the workplace. Confidential surveys are a great way for employees to bring this up to their employer without feeling like they are telling on colleagues. Another fun way to learn about personality types is having all employees take tests like Myers-Briggs. This way, employees can learn about themselves, and how to best work with other personality types.
Organizational: Struggles relating to hierarchy or power struggles are the most prevalent in the workplace. Discussing roles/responsibilities and how to address issues will prevent most problems but it can also be helpful to have employees fill out surveys or interview with upper management to make sure they are always feeling comfortable with structure. This way, if an issue is upsetting an employee, it can be addressed early and prevent it from snowballing.
Change: Many people are resistant to change and that can create conflict in the workplace. There is always stress related to management change, downsizing, etc. Keeping tabs on employee stress can help prevent conflict if monitored carefully. If any employee is showing signs of stress, talk to them about the issue and come to an agreement on how best to approach the situation.
External factors: Economic pressure, changing markets and more can lead to conflict in the workplace. Companies that have constant relationships with outside organizations are most impacted by this type of conflict. One way this can come up in a child care center is public ideologies—do parents at your center look at teachers as educators or babysitters? Their outlook towards teachers may impact morale. Keep an eye on external factors and help educate parents to keep conflict at bay.