Think about the many different work styles, personality types, viewpoints and temperaments in your organization. Add to that mix competing for ideas, workplace stress, ego, and pride, a, d it’s easy to see how employees can butt heads. While many workplace disagreements resolve naturally or simply fizzle out on their own over time, others can simmer for days, weeks, months – even years. These unresolved conflicts often negatively affect productivity, morale, performance, and wellness — not only for the individuals directly involved, but also for coworkers, teams and colleagues.
This session will present an intuitive, conceptual framework regarding the opportunities and choices organizations can take to manage and respond to workplace conflict. These include organizational strategies to foster a civil and productive work environment, build conflict capability through interpersonal conflict skill development, and provide third-party assistance such as informal mediation and facilitated conversations to help employees in conflict resolve their differences. These strategies are generally more effective than formal employee grievance processes that are adversarial in nature.
This session will make the case that the most proactive and effective choices are those that leave decisions about how to resolve conflicts in the hands of the employees themselves. This includes equipping managers to resolve employee conflicts before resorting to more formal organizational processes. It is the process of building conflict capability in the workforce and represents the best opportunity for the organization to manage and respond to conflict situations and keep them from escalating.
This session will also address the benefits of these processes for promoting employee well-being. These processes are more holistic than formal employee grievance processes because they provide employees ownership in how conflicts will be resolved to best meet their needs and reduce stress. In contrast, formal employee grievance processes leave employees at the mercy of organizational decision makers to determine outcomes that often focus more on who is right or wrong rather than help employees understand root causes and differences at the heart of their disagreements, improve interpersonal communication and relationships, and find reconciliation and healing.
The presenter, Daniel B. Griffith, has a wealth of experience in addressing workplace conflicts, coaching others to manage conflict, mediating workplace disputes, and facilitating training on conflict management skills. He also trains leaders and employees to serve as internal organizational mediators. He is principal author of The Conflict Survival Kit: Tools for Resolving Conflict at Work (2nd ed.) and writes articles on workplace conflict and climate issues. For further insight on concepts relevant to the session, check out the following articles:
- Practices for Early Intervention and Resolution of Conflict
- The Leader’s Role in Coaching Employees through Conflict
- When to Take Ownership of Conflict
- Taking a Mediator’s Perspective to Resolve Conflict
Daniel B. Griffith, J.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Office of Intercultural Literacy, Capacity and Engagement
Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)