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  Date : 18-05-2015   Platform/Online Media: TimesJob : Your Story Source

5 tips for leaders to avoid conflicts at work

Managing conflict is essential to managing competency, says an expert

By design or by default, conflicts in the form of disagreements, struggles and arguments are inherent in a workplace. These are typically triggered by inadequate communication, battle for resources, ego clashes, gossips, cultural differences and value clashes.

Hierarchy, designations, perceived positioning and power equations also add to subtle pressures within organisations.

Ramnath S, executive director & lead CFO partner, MyCFO, tells TimesJobs.com why managing conflict is essential to managing competency at the workplace and ensure a positive work environment.

1. Foster a culture of mutual trust and respect

Workplace brings together personalities of varying backgrounds, cultures, genders and political and religious beliefs. When employees fail to accept the differences, the conflict can intensify until the right solution is offered and accepted. In such cases, a code of ethics is essential. An employee handbook setting guidelines for acceptable and respectful behaviour needs to be put in place. Set clear boundaries and accepted behaviour within the organisation. Difference in values is not always the cause for conflict but it is the failure to accept the differences. At all times, encourage using respectful tone, choosing the right words, and actively listening to what the other person has to say.

2. Encourage diversity within the system

Cross-functional, multi-disciplinary or multi-cultural teams generally stimulate innovation. Fostering workplace diversity always has many bottom line benefits. Nevertheless, this has ensured that all employees fully understand the benefits and are committed to a diverse workplace. Transparent recruiting process and retention policies can help ease the minds of critics. All employees should understand that hiring decisions are based on finding the best candidate and not by quotas.

3. Best cure is communication

Failing to communicate in the workplace may cause employees to make incorrect assumptions and believe workplace gossip. Too often, people avoid difficult conversations in the hope that a problem will just go away, which of course it rarely does. Putting issues on the back burner never helps. Assess promptly any issues that come up and often we can see a peaceful resolution.

4. Be encouraging

Performance reviews and feedback are sensitive areas in most organisations. Straightforward feedback is misunderstood as being rude in some cultures. To resolve a conflict arising from a negative performance review, work directly with the employee to create a solid and time-bound plan of action to improve the performance and link these goals to guaranteed incentives. Allow employees a voice when setting goals to increase their dedication to achieving the goals. More importantly, consistent and encouraging feedback helps increase productivity.

5. Find ways to reduce stress

Companies that play together stay together. Somehow, when we become adults, we assume that everyone is supposed to be serious. Many believe work and play must somehow become separated. While our job is our duty and our passion, play is not opposite to work. Once organisations understand that work and play can coexist, it can go a long way toward making them a sought-after place to work. It is important for leaders to energise and make the workplace fulfilling for all.