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Conflict in the workplace is a serious issue that can result in absenteeism, reduced productivity, high turnover, and lost revenue. Often employees don't have the tools needed to effectively deal with conflict and many find it difficult to keep what could be minor, isolated incidents from becoming chronic or widespread.

Here are three situations in which Conflict Coaching could help you resolve workplace conflict and improve morale and productivity:
  1. You have a coworker who isn't junior or senior to you: You are in parallel positions, and there is a power struggle going on. One of you may feel undermined by the other. One may feel pushed around. You may need the other person to complete some aspects of the work before you can do your part. What if he doesn't? What if he undermines your efforts? This creates a poisoned work environment for both of you.
  2. You are a project manager who needs the right people to fill key positions on your project team, but the HR person responsible for hiring isn't taking your feedback into account. This can lead to conflict if, for instance, the HR person hires someone who isn't a good fit for the team or passes over someone you think would be a great addition.
  3. You are a supervisor dealing with staff members who are mired in a dispute: You are truly between a rock and a hard place here: do you fire one of them? Both of them? Neither? How do you get them to work together? How can you avoid drastic measures or having a mediator come in?

In these situations, it is important to remember that everyone is probably just trying to do their jobs (I say "probably" because there are those rare people who are intentionally toxic). Things spiral out of control; one issue becomes ten. People begin to feel like actions are intentional or malicious when maybe they weren't intended that way at all. In any case, a conflict coach can help you clarify your thinking and decide on an effective course of action.

Conflict is an unavoidable element of the workplace, and when handled constructively, it can actually benefit everyone. Too often, though, it is destructive and can create ripple effects that reach out beyond the office. Conflict Coaching helps you take some control of what you can do in these situations to work toward an outcome you'd like to see.

Contributed by John Curtis, Attorney and Conflict Coach


Larry Hart

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