The worst thing supervisors do when they see a conflict is to wait for it to disappear on its own.
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Conflicts are bad, but they are natural. They must be expected to occur and that is why you need to create a system to prevent and resolve them. A supervisor has the tough task of managing the work of employees, and also their behavior. Any behavior that negatively impacts the work of employees and the workplace environment must be corrected immediately. If you let bad work ethics or difficult behavior pass, then you are almost promoting others to break rules too.
Do Not Allow Broken Windows at the Workplace
Remember the broken window theory? It is essentially this: If a window has been broken and you do not get it repaired, then other people will be more likely to damage the property because they can see that it has already been damaged. On the other hand, if you repair the broken window, then you are giving the unspoken signal to people that this place is impeccable, which subconsciously discourages them to damage the property.
The same holds true regarding difficult behavior. If you do not fix it in due time, you are communicating to others that it is acceptable.
Develop a Yardstick to Judge Good and Bad Behaviors
You need to have a yardstick on which to judge the work and behavior of employees. That will help you to quickly identify problems when they occur. This is the first essential step towards conflict resolution. If you are unable to identify conflicts in their initial stage, they will have done some damage. Some of the things that you may consider when creating the yardstick are:
- What are the company policies regarding work ethics?
- Which behaviors are a complete no-no at the workplace?
- Which behaviors can damage the employees’ morale, hurt team spirit and reduce productivity?
- What are ideal ways in which you expect the employees to conduct themselves?
- How is bad conduct punished in accordance with company rules?
After you have a yardstick, you will find that you will notice deviances from your guidelines much faster. Even though all deviances will not be great offences, it will help you to make little changes to prevent a conflict from occurring in the first place.
Target Their Communications
A supervisor must initiate conversations with the employees and also make himself or herself available for any kind of interactions. It promotes trust, transparency and builds team spirit. Even though not all communications with employees need to be targeted to reach a set goal, if you channel employees to meet specific goals, then you will have a better supervised team. For conflict resolution, your goal must be conflict prevention. To achieve that, you may target your communications to:
- Motivate employees
- Encourage team spirit
- Reward good behavior through praise
- Remind employees of the best work practices
- Share ideas and plans to enhance cooperation
- Improve job satisfaction
You can create an environment where there are less chances of conflicts taking place by targeting your everyday conversations with employees. This is the smart and systematic approach to conflict prevention and resolution.
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