influence on culture in organization

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5 Strategies to managing workplace conflicts

August 31, 2012

Conflict in the workplace is a leading cause of stress and causes lost productivity as employees try to avoid those with whom they disagree. In fact, human resource managers report spending 24 to 60 percent of their time managing employee disputes.

About 35 percent of the U.S. workforce has been the target of a workplace bully, with another 15 percent reporting they've witnessed another employee being bullied, according a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). And it's not just bullying that poses problems, but differences of opinion and personality conflicts that can cause employee strife.

Here are a few tips for managing conflict to keep your team functioning at its best.

1. Hear both sides. Give both parties a chance to share their side of the story in full. Sometimes getting everything on the table can reveal an easy solution that wasn't obvious before the issues were verbalized.

Often, employees feel better just knowing they've had a chance to share their concerns and be heard. Brian V. Moore, team-building expert and founder of Celebrating Humanity, says it's important to create a level playing field where each person feels as though they can speak without being ridiculed or embarrassed.

2. Get to the root of the problem. Easier said than done, but it's critical for developing a win-win solution that keeps the organization's goals at the forefront. As a small-business owner, the more conflicts you mediate, the easier this will become. That's why giving both parties a chance to explain their side of the story in detail is imperative; it will help you identify the core issue.

Is it a personality conflict? Are the employees in conflict coming from different departments with different goals? Knowing the real issue at hand...