Stress and conflict are related.
A conflict-ridden workforce can be extremely stressful, and high levels of stress can produce conflict. Both need to be managed for the workplace to function in an effective manner.
That said, there are two views on conflicts. The traditional view maintains conflicts are bad and should be totally discouraged. However, a more contemporary view says conflicts can be constructive and good and different ways of thinking should be encouraged to get multiple ideas and solutions to problems in hand.
Many believe that for effective conflict management, there is a need for creating a right atmosphere which empowers people to think originally and encourages them to put forth their suggestions and opinions without fear. And within this mindset, members are encouraged to resolve conflicts among themselves with a very open and collaborative mind.
This conflict management methodology believes that a workforce needs to rise above its personal emotions while resolving conflicts and focus on final goals of the project or work in hand. A manager intervenes in resolving a conflict only when the involved team members will not be able to resolve on their own.
Some of the sources of conflict might include disagreements on schedules, cost, priorities, technical opinions, resources and administrative procedures.
Personality related conflicts, of course, should always be discouraged and requires immediate attention of management.
Regardless of the approach, efficient leaders still need to be aware of core conflict management fundamentals. For example, it’s crucial for managers to understand the situation that’s causing conflict. Few situations are exactly as they seem or as presented by others. Before you try to settle the conflict insure you have investigated both sides of the issue.
Acknowledging the problem (as opposed to avoiding it) is also a step in the right direction. Keep in mind that what appears to be a small issue to you can be a major issue to another. Acknowledging the frustration and concerns is an important first move in resolving the conflict.
Another key is focusing on the problem rather than the individual. This is akin to a root cause analysis approach. Avoid pre-conceived attitudes about individuals. Person X may not be the most congenial individual or they many just have a personality conflict with someone on the staff. This does not mean they do not have a legitimate problems or issue.
Concentrate on identifying and resolving the conflict. If, after careful and thorough analysis, you determine the individual is the problem, then focus on the individual at that point.
Want to learn more about conflict management training? Tonex offers Conflict Management Training | The Fundamentals, a 1-day course where participants learn stress management techniques and the causes of conflict and how to prevent issues before they escalate.