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Turn Conflict into Collaboration: Strengthen Your Team with Better Conflict Resolution Skills

by Michael Murphy / February 21, 2024

Conflict in the workplace is bound to happen. With different personalities and opinions colliding, disagreements and friction naturally occur. However, conflict doesn’t have to fracture your team. With the right mindset and skills, it can strengthen relationships and spark positive change. The key is transforming conflict into an opportunity—a stimulus for creativity, improved collaboration, and organizational growth.

As a leader, you play a key role in this transformation. When you can empower your team with conflict resolution strategies, you can change the narrative around discord. Unlock your team’s potential to have hard conversations and constructively handle workplace disputes. Teach them to better understand different perspectives, communicate openly even when tensions run high, and solve problems as aligned partners, not hostile enemies.

When you provide the tools, training, and coaching your team needs to take on disagreements head-on, you will create a culture of trust, respect, and ongoing improvement. Team members develop the confidence to voice their concerns early before frustrations boil over. They become active listeners, going after win-win scenarios. Your organization becomes a workplace where employees feel safe, valued, and committed to shared goals.

Why Conflict Resolution Skills Are Vital To Your Team

Conflict resolution abilities enable teams to turn moments of friction into opportunities for growth. Mastering the art of conflict management leads to greater alignment, resilience, and performance for your team. That’s why developing these skills should be a top priority. So, how can developing strong conflict-resolution skills empower your team?

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Conflict Resolution Promotes Effective Communication

Open and honest communication is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether the relationship is personal or professional. When conflicts surface, the ability to express disagreements constructively and find solutions is critical. With good conflict-resolution skills, team members can share their perspectives, listen to each other, and find common ground. This builds trust and strengthens interpersonal bonds.

On the other hand, unresolved conflict can lead to passive-aggressive behavior, closed-off body language, gossiping, and other unhealthy communication patterns. This corrodes team cohesion over time. Readying your team to handle conflict healthily fosters an environment of transparent and effective communication.

Conflict Resolution Helps With Stress Management

Unresolved conflict is a major source of stress for many employees. When team members cannot properly communicate to address issues, tension simmers, and pressure builds up. This can take a toll mentally, emotionally, and physically, in some cases.

With strong conflict resolution strategies, employees have an outlet to address concerns openly before they boil over. This prevents the buildup of unmanaged stress. Giving your team the tools they need to tackle disagreements head-on helps to provide a sense of control and empowerment.

Conflict Resolution Improves Job Satisfaction

The ability to resolve conflict has a significant impact on job satisfaction. Employees who feel psychologically safe to share ideas and debate respectfully are much more engaged and satisfied with their work.

On the other hand, unaddressed disagreements leave employees feeling frustrated, stifled, and discontent. Providing conflict resolution training allows your team to clear the air. This results in less tension and higher morale overall.

Strategies to Empower Your Team

As a leader, how can you actively empower your employees to resolve conflict effectively? Here are some best practices:

Set Expectations Upfront

Make conflict resolution skills an ingrained part of your team's culture from day one. Establish norms and guidelines during onboarding that outline appropriate ways to communicate differences and reach mutual solutions. Emphasize that constructive resolution abilities are core competencies valued by all team members.

Provide Ongoing Education

Offer your team regular training and resources to continually enhance conflict resolution capabilities. Bring in mediation experts to lead workshops on diplomacy, emotional intelligence, and de-escalation. Share resources like videos and e-books on communication tactics. Appoint conflict resolution mentors whom team members can turn to for direction when issues do arise.

Create Open Dialogue Channels

Encourage expressing differences of opinion early before conflicts spiral out of control. Keep an open-door policy for employees to seek advice navigating their way through disagreements. Use tools like anonymous feedback channels to discover any concerns. Promote debates and collaborative forums to exchange perspectives respectfully. The more you allow sensitive open discussions, the stronger your team’s resolution skills become.

Guide Collaborative Discussions

Resist the urge to assess top-down solutions when conflicts materialize. Instead, lead your team through interest-based processes where they feel invested in outcomes. Define problems objectively, hear all sides, and guide brainstorming on mutually beneficial resolutions. With your oversight and ground rules, they can navigate challenges and build trust.

Empower Independent Resolution

Allow employees to resolve minor disputes independently without immediate intervention. Of course, you should monitor the situations for escalations. But allow your team to exercise and improve their resolution muscles first. They will gain more confidence through experience. Limit directives and encourage independence in constructively working through some differences.

Make Improvement a Priority

Position conflict resolution as a continuous learning journey, and not a pass/fail test. Treat mistakes as opportunities to improve. Regularly reflect on successes and areas for growth after disputes. Celebrate wins where employees find compromise through teamwork and understanding. Reinforce that skill-building is an ongoing process.

Conflict Resolution in Action

Constructively managing conflict is an important skill in both personal and professional relationships. When handled poorly, disagreements can spiral out of control, resulting in hurt feelings, damaged relationships, and friction. However, if navigated the right way, conflict can actually strengthen bonds and lead to innovative solutions.

Let’s look at an example of how conflict resolution can play out in a real workplace scenario:

RJ and Jessica work together on the marketing team for a gaming company. RJ focuses on social media and Jessica manages email campaigns and newsletters. The company is rolling out a new game and needs to promote its launch across every marketing channel. However, RJ and Jessica cannot agree on the best messaging and strategy.

One day, Jessica creates new newsletter content and schedules without talking to RJ. When RJ sees her plan, he pushes back and tells Jessica her idea will not work well for social channels. The tension between the two escalates because both feel the other is not listening. As the launch date gets closer and closer, frustration between the two builds up.

After a blow-up argument in a team meeting, their manager steps in. She reminds them of the company’s commitment to constructive conflict resolution. First, she has them both take a short break to give them time to cool down. Then, they regroup and re-frame the issue objectively as a team challenge, rather than blaming individual failures. 

Their manager asks them to share their perspectives and any limitations they may be facing, without judgment. Eventually, the three share ideas that address their concerns, such as testing different approaches and reporting back. They eventually agreed to a reworked coordinated plan.

By going through the conflict resolution process, RJ and Jessica felt heard, practiced active listening, and came to a compromise. Their manager facilitated this while allowing them to own the solution. In the end, this conflict led to improved understanding and better results. This situation shows how workplaces can empower their employees to resolve conflict through open communication, collaboration, and workplace values that prioritize mutual understanding and togetherness.

How a Learning Management System (LMS) Can Help

As we have shared, equipping your team with the skills to address conflicts constructively can lead to stronger relationships and improved performance. Digital tools can play a significant role in facilitating conflict resolution by providing a variety of features and functionalities that help with communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.

About 9 in 10 employers now offer digital learning opportunities, with the backbone being a Learning Management System (LMS). A Learning Management System (LMS) is a tool that can be used to reinforce conflict resolution training and build a culture of continuous improvement around these skills in your organization. With the ability to revolutionize traditional learning tactics, an LMS catalyzes unleashing the full potential of your team.

Here are some key ways an LMS can help:

Training On-Demand

One of the top benefits of an LMS is providing access to training materials anytime, anywhere. Employees can learn at their own pace through self-directed online courses and microlearning. This is perfect for busy teams and remote staff. No more coordinating schedules for in-person workshops. With customizable courses and automated assignments, HR spends less time on training logistics and more on strategic initiatives. This flexibility is appreciated by employees as well—as 68% of employees prefer to learn at work.

Engaging Onboarding

An LMS is invaluable for onboarding new hires. HR can design interactive courses on company policies, tools, and culture. Instead of just giving new hires a manual, they can work through engaging content. This experience sticks better than lectures. According to a previous study by The Research Institute of America, trainees retain 25-60% more material compared to only 8-10% in classroom lessons. An LMS onboarding program sets up new hires for success from day one.

Upskilling Made Easy

94% of workers say they would stay longer at a company that invests in their career development. An LMS allows employees to continuously expand their skills. Managers can assign training content, like leadership and software courses, to develop teams. Employees can also select lessons aligned to growth goals. 

Compliance Assured

Compliance training is another key LMS feature. HR can schedule and track progress for required courses on ethics, harassment, diversity, and other important topics. Updating policies in an LMS is easier than reprinting pages for thick binders. Automated notifications and new hire assignments ensure full completion rates. This lowers compliance risk and builds a culture of responsibility.

Conflict is going to be a part of any healthy workplace. However, when left unresolved, it can have destructive impacts on morale, productivity, and retention. Developing strong conflict resolution skills at all levels is needed if you truly want to empower your team. With ongoing training, resources, and leadership support, your employees can become masterful at having challenging conversations and finding “win-win” solutions. 

Platinum Group can be your partner in developing resilient and empowered teams. Our Learning Management System through isolved People Cloud delivers the on-demand training, resources, and culture reinforcement needed to resolve conflict across your organization. Conflict resolution is a learned skill—one that requires ongoing practice and dedication. But the payoffs certainly make it incredibly worthwhile!

Get in touch with us today to learn more.

Tags: Employee Engagement Asheville HCM Emotional Intelligence COLLABORATION Company Values Empathetic Leader

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.