We spend a LOT of time at work. According to a study cited by MacKay, J. (2019, May 8) 94% of service professionals put in 50+ hours a week of work. 26% of work is being done after the standard work day, usually from home. This means the majority of our time is spent with co-workers and or clients.
That’s a LOT of dough!
Conflict in the workplace is extremely costly. Some estimate that American companies lose $359 BILLION a year due to the effects of conflicts because of diminished work performance, low employee morale, and loss of revenue (Picincu, A, 2019). Not to mention the negative health effects elevated conflict can have on employees such as anxiety, depression, poor sleep, back pain and even migraines (Picincu, A. 2019).
You spend most of your time at work - make it pleasant!
Addressing conflict in the workplace is not only possible, it is highly recommended to save money, improve customer relations and maintain a work environment that will make your employees want to stay. One of the best ways to address conflict in the workplace is to bring in a mediator who is skilled at individual conflict coaching.
A mediator is trained at working with groups of people to identify, address and help develop a workable solution to the conflicts.
Getting issues out in the open so that they are able to be properly addressed is the first step. These issues can be conflicts with as few as two people, to an entire team. For larger groups, a co-mediator may be needed to make the process go more smoothly. Identifying the issue is usually where the most tension and chaos is - there are a lot of different opinions on what (and who) is the problem. If there are too many issues, identify the top 3 and work on them, and put the rest in a “parking lot” for later.
Now that you have the issues nailed down, the mediator can start working with the participants to talk about the issue. Get as much information out as possible - the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how it affects them. I like to call this the “verbal vomit” stage. Everyone gets to participate, and the mediator(s) need to keep track of comments. Using a large whiteboard allows everyone to see the information at the same time and discuss it more accurately.
As you go, the individuals participating will come up with solutions. Write them down, and use them to start finding actual workable solutions. (Remember - a mediator doesn’t provide the solution, they facilitate the group.) When solutions are agreed to, make sure to reality test them.
Providing conflict coaching to a group who have gone through a mediation and come up with workable solutions is key to making sure those solutions really do work in the real world. Most likely, they will need to be tweaked, and the individuals involved will need coaching to help change behaviors to adjust to the new solutions. A conflict coach should be willing to do Immersive Coaching (working with the employee as they go about their day) to help them make real-time changes.
An ounce of prevention….
Bottom line - conflicts in the workplace cost significant amounts of money in lost productivity, poor morale, low customer satisfaction and high employee turnover. Engaging a mediator and conflict coach will not only significantly reduce conflict costs, it will show significant dedication and commitment to the health and well-being of your organization.