Behind every successful business, some employees are committed to doing the best job they can. A workplace can thrive when this commitment is shared among all employees.
One of the greatest challenges for employers is how to successfully manage conflicts between co-workers and within teams. This is why employers should know about conflict management styles.
Conflict management styles are a way to help you understand your communication style and how you like to interact with others.
Learn more about conflict management styles, including what they are, when to use them, and their pros and cons.
What is Conflict Management?
Conflict is a natural part of the workplace, and it can have both positive and negative outcomes.
Conflict can result in increased productivity and an energized workplace. Yet, if not managed appropriately, it may lead to reduced productivity, high turnover rates, low morale, and low employee engagement.
Conflict management is an important part of the workplace, whether between employees or between an employee and his or her manager. It can help employees prosper and enhance working relationships. On occasion, conflict does arise in all types of relationships.
Whether it’s with a peer, colleague, or boss, being able to manage such conflict effectively is key to your success as an employee. When conflict is dealt with proactively, you can create a more motivated workforce that is satisfied with the organization’s direction.
What Are the Conflict Management Styles?
1. Compromising style
The compromising style is a way to reach an understanding, or compromise, with the other side of the conflict.
Furthermore, it is a conflict management style that is good for minor conflicts. The main idea behind this style involves negotiating certain issues to share and control resources.
When people are in a compromising mood, they put their personal needs aside to work together with others.
All parties may have their points of view. However, these points of view can be combined into one solution that suits both parties.
When to use
The compromising style is when both parties agree to an arrangement in which they are not satisfied.
This is a good strategy if you have a limited amount of time to resolve the conflict. It’s also useful when the issues aren’t so important that you need to make a stand.
- Open lines of communication
- Reasonable and open to compromise
- As the issue is settled fast, there is less burden and stress
- In the process, important values and long-term goals can be put at risk
- If the initial demands are too high, it may not work
- Developing a compromise policy without committing to a solution can breed negativity
2. Collaborating style
A collaborative style focuses on the best interests of the organization and tends to be the most appropriate approach when working with stakeholders.
It means that people work together to achieve common business objectives and resolve conflict through mutual acceptance of personal opinions and ideas.
The collaborating style is a style of dealing with conflict that focuses on allowing the parties involved to reach a compromise.
This style is based on negotiation and communication and sees both sides as equal in the situation. This style is good for mediation because everyone involved in the conflict will be heard and considered.
When to use
One of the most effective ways to deal with conflict is to engage in collaboration between the two parties. The collaborating style is best suited to situations in which there are no clearly defined goals or standards.
It is also applicable when both parties are open to new ideas and solutions, when strong communication is important, or when both parties have equal status and power. This style aims to satisfy all parties involved.
- Negotiating a win-win situation
- Problem-solving in an inventive manner
- Guarantees that everyone is treated with respect and worth
- Solving a problem can take time, effort, and energy
- There may not be a solution that benefits all sides
3. Accommodating style
The accommodating style is when both parties are competing for the same goal. The goal of a manager, in this instance, is to help their staff achieve the task within their strengths and capabilities.
The subordinate will have much autonomy in what they do, so long as they meet the overall goals.
An accommodating style is characterized by flexibility and cooperation. This means that your goal is to win over others to your point of view through negotiation and compromise, rather than trying to force your way into getting what you want.
When to use
Using this style is best for minor issues because it creates a quick decision without straining relationships. It sometimes follows the path of friendliness, or kindness, when you disagree with someone’s opinion.
Yet, you choose to support them to retain your calm and keep a good work ethic.
- The conflict is quickly resolved, allowing the focus to return to the task or activity at hand
- Harmony, peace, and eliminating petty arguments are top priorities
- Maintains relationships
- It’s great for making group decisions
- Respect for leaders may decrease as they can be seen as weak
- This style may often result in a resolution, but is unlikely to be effective in achieving long-term change
- Individual differences and interest conflicts will often emerge
4. Competing style
The competing style is typically used to resolve a workplace conflict between two people. One person must give in and give up their position on an issue so that the other person can have what they want.
This will usually happen if both sides have similar levels of power in the organization or company. This style is always challenging for an employer, as it increases time and costs.
When to use
The competing style is best suited to resolving complex or highly emotional conflicts where the parties have different interests. This conflict management style is useful in situations where there are many stakeholders involved in a project or working environment.
The competitive style is also ideal when both sides are willing to give up part of their original position to reach an agreement.
- Problem-solving effectiveness
- Decisive and firm during an emergency or crisis
- Drives solution quickly
- It is a very dominant style of conflict management
- It can sometimes be used as a bullying tactic
5. Avoiding style
Avoiding style is a very hands-off approach to conflict management. In this style, you avoid conflict.
The avoiding conflict management style focuses on disengagement and avoidance to avoid conflict. Avoiders tend to be very sensitive and want to avoid any type of conflict as much as possible.
They tend to follow the “non-confrontational” rule. This means they won’t tell you if something is wrong or bother you about it until it’s necessary.
The aim here is not to resolve the problem, but rather to avoid dealing with it altogether. People who use this style may try to close off conversations by dropping hints that may be interpreted as rude.
They also tend to speak in vague terms and avoid giving direct answers when asked questions directly (e.g., “Let me think about it”). It may seem like a good idea to run away from problems, but it seldom is. Don’t think that ignoring issues will make them go away. They won’t.
When to use
This style is used by people who avoid conflict to keep the peace. They may not confront issues directly or may try to avoid dealing with others altogether.
It’s appropriate when you don’t want to bother anyone or don’t want the other party to be upset with you. A prime example of this is when one person’s feelings are hurt by another’s actions and no apology is given.
- Allows time for you to calm down and ponder the situation
- Conflict is not prolonged unnecessarily, especially when it is minor.
- It gives room for time to prepare and gather knowledge and input before making a decision
- Often leads to the escalation of conflicts
- People using the avoidance style usually postpone a decision until it’s too late for effective intervention
Employer Tips for Resolving Conflicts Among Employees
1. Understand the nature of the conflicts before you interfere
Conflict is a natural part of life and can help create more productive teams. Before you step in to resolve an employee conflict, you should understand the nature of the conflict. Is it interpersonal or rooted in a difference of opinion?
How will resolving the conflict affect other employees and customers? These answers will help you determine your course of action moving forward. Remember that avoiding this step can lead to further conflict.
2. Listen actively and let everyone have their say
When there is a conflict between employees, it’s important that the employer act quickly to resolve the dispute.
As an employer, you should aim to resolve workplace conflict in a positive manner. Listening actively to your employees will help them feel heard and make them more willing to listen to and comply with your requests.
Employers can therefore improve their ability to resolve conflicts by listening actively during the conversation.
You should also ensure that everyone has a chance to talk about their feelings regarding the conflict. Thus, all parties are satisfied with the outcome and can move forward productively together.
The key is to listen actively and let everyone have their say, but avoid becoming overly emotional yourself.
3. Encourage employees to resolve issues among themselves
Encourage employees to resolve issues themselves. If a conflict occurs, it’s best to let the employees try to resolve it on their own before intervening.
People can often solve problems better if they’re given time and space to work out their differences themselves.
By encouraging employees to resolve conflicts between themselves, you’ll save money on outside consultants who can’t provide long-term solutions.
Plus, employees will feel respected by management when they’re encouraged to handle issues themselves (instead of being punished for not getting along).
The goal is to help the employees work through their issues without involving you.
4. Agree on the best solution
Employers should help employees solve their problems in the most positive way possible.
The ideal solution is when both sides are happy with their decisions, although this doesn’t always happen.
In some cases, one person may have to make sacrifices to bring peace between them.
When it comes to resolving conflicts among employees, your role as an employer can be a powerful tool.
If you’re digging in your heels and refusing to help one of your employees resolve a conflict with another employee, you may lose both of them. Instead, try an approach that will make everyone feel heard and respected.
Take the time to listen and find out the facts before making a decision.
5. Lead by example
Leading by example can help resolve conflicts. If a manager is anxious about hiring new employees or does not trust his subordinates, it will show. This can lead to confusion and other negative effects in the workplace.
Managers should model desirable conflict management styles such as being empathetic and open-minded to set a positive example for others.
A good manager or employer will lead by example and take steps to resolve conflicts between employees.
Employees who see that their boss is willing to handle conflict respectfully and work things out without drama will be more likely to follow suit.
Are there conflict management skills?
Conflict management styles can vary depending on the situation and the people involved.
Yet, some basic conflict management skills can be used in most situations.
What is the best way to avoid conflict in the workplace?
The best way to avoid conflict in the workplace is to have clear goals and expectations set at the onset of employment.
Another way to avoid conflict in the workplace is to manage your staff well.
It’s easy to brush conflicts under the rug and ignore them. But to get results, employers need to manage conflict correctly.
Incorporating one or more conflict management styles into your management style can help you get results.
Hopefully, by reading this article, you will have a better understanding of the benefits and detriments of each style. While one is not necessarily better than another, managers may want to assess their conflicts in the workplace.
Consequently, you should choose a conflict management style that works best for you.
Aside from conflict, one of the common problems employees face at work is harassment. Because of this, an article on the different types of employee harassment and how to deal with them exists on the website. The article is beneficial to employers, employees, and the workplace at large.
Thanks for reading.