While it is not always possible to avoid conflict in the workplace, it is possible to enjoy a tranquil work environment most of the time. One of the best ways to help your commercial environment remain as tension-free as possible is by reviewing some examples of avoiding conflict in the workplace. To that end, check out the following examples and keep them in mind whenever you sense a conflict brewing.
1) Encouraging Feedback
If your employees feel like they can talk to you about their concerns or provide suggestions via a suggestion box, it becomes easier to “keep the peace.” When team members do not feel like they have a voice, it does not take long for tension to mount. You want to style yourself as an approachable manager who is always ready to discuss various issues. Encouraging feedback is a fantastic way to do this. No matter how you decide to promote feedback, make it clear that your team is in a safe space and can speak freely, albeit respectfully. Your team will love that they can provide honest, tactful feedback and will be extra thrilled when they see the suggestions in practice. While you do not have to use every single suggestion that comes your way, incorporating a few of them into work practices every so often lets employees know you are listening. Both you and the company are more likely to enjoy great reviews from team members when they leave for various reasons, such as because of new opportunities or relocations.
2) Becoming Familiar With Conflict-Related Body Language & Tone of Voice
Spotting the signs of a conflict takes time, but becomes an invaluable work tool. Observing body language and tone of voice helps you stop conflicts before they start to help you maintain a peaceful work environment. Signs of impending conflict can include employees speaking with crossed arms, increasingly turning away from one another, raising their voices, and speaking in tones that can be characterized as “icy,” “shrill,” “curt,” or just plain rude. You might also notice increasingly-erratic hand gestures and team members stalking about the workplace while appearing angry, upset, or stressed. Other signs can include the slamming of notebooks and various office supplies. As soon as you notice any conflict-related warning signs, you should intervene. Consider asking the distressed employee to meet with you in a few minutes after walking outside for fresh air. If your office provides healthy outlets for stress, such as a meditation room or gym, you could suggest visiting either of those areas to work through various emotions. No matter what you decide to do in these types of situations, the importance of intervening quickly cannot be emphasized enough. It can prevent potentially-huge blowouts at work that are challenging to come back from and make the whole office feel tense.
3) Weekly Check-Ins
Examples of avoiding conflict in the workplace can include weekly check-in meetings where everyone has the chance to speak about their projects and any issues they are experiencing. Such check-ins are not opportunities to call others out or make accusations, rather, they are designed to discuss what can be improved. If weekly check-ins are too much, have bimonthly meetings instead. You can also have one-on-one meetings with your team throughout the month, every month, to ensure any issues have been resolved in a timely fashion. For example, think about implementing 15-minute check-ins that occur every two or three weeks. These check-ins allow team members to ask any questions they have, vent about issues they are currently mitigating, and simply laugh with you. If you have common interests, such as a deep love of cats, you can talk about your felines’ latest antics after going over questions or concerns. Team members will appreciate your interest in their well-being and overall lives since they won’t feel like “numbers on a spreadsheet.”
4) Creating a Definitive Workplace Code
It is always a good idea for a business to have a code that outlines what is and is not acceptable in the office or other commercial space. This document should be issued to all new hires and include detailed information about standard procedures, dress codes, harassment of any kind, and operating policies. The more info workers have about how to conduct themselves and what is not acceptable, the less likely it is for conflicts to erupt. Even if your workplace is relatively small, a definitive code of conduct is a welcome idea. Make it part of the onboarding process to prevent issues with new hires. A day of workplace code training during new hires’ first week of work is a good idea because it gets such training out of the way and helps new team members start their jobs from positive, professional, healthy places. If you need assistance creating a definitive workplace code, collaborate with your fellow managers and review other companies’ codes for inspiration. You might also want to schedule periodic code “refresher” meetings where everyone on the team is reminded of what acceptable work conduct includes. Depending on the size of your company, you could hire actors to act out different scenarios that relate to the code. Try to have some humor thrown into the skits, even though they concern serious topics. A little humor helps team members stay engaged.
5) Implementing “Recharge Days”
“Recharge days” can be part of the paid time off (PTO) packages. Such days are separate from sick days and vacation days, as they are designed to help team members refresh and recharge. Encourage employees to take these days whenever they feel they are necessary, such as following huge, stressful projects or any other lengthy assignment. Taking a day to recharge and do fun/relaxing things, such as walking around the neighborhood, trying a new exercise class, having lunch with family and friends, and playing with the family dog helps team members clear their minds. They will return to work less stressed as a result and ready to tackle their latest projects. What’s more, your team will greatly appreciate you adding these mental health days to their PTO packages and likely say so during offboarding interviews. Your company will also enjoy a reputation boost since concern for employee wellness is more than a trend. It is something more and more companies are focusing on, and those that ignore wellness initiatives are increasingly considered “archaic” and “old-fashioned.”
When employees take recharge days, they are less likely to engage in volatile conversations with coworkers. Issues with fellow employees can also seem less dramatic and important after spending a recharge day hiking, at the spa, or simply relaxing at home.
6) Adding a Meditation Space if Your Company Does Not Have One
Let’s expand on the meditation room mentioned earlier! Dedicating a space in your office or another workplace to meditation and relaxation can prove invaluable. Comfortable floor pillows, soothing music, and beautiful wall décor are among the ways to decorate the room and promote calm feelings. Employees can retreat to this space whenever they feel they “need a minute,” which can help sidestep serious blowups. For example, say a coworker gets increasingly agitated with another employee they find obnoxious or irritating. Instead of saying something inflammatory to the irritating coworker in question, they could go to the meditation/relaxation room for a few minutes to breathe. Deep breathing instantly calms the mind and body, while clearing the mind makes “big issues” with coworkers seem small and insignificant. If everyone or at least most of the people at your workplace take advantage of this room, you will likely notice how much calmer and happier everybody seems. The entire work environment vibe could shift, because everyone has a better mindset.
7) Suggesting Outdoor Lunches
If your business location features a courtyard or a similar pretty outdoor space, encourage team members to take their lunch breaks outside when the weather permits. Like college professors who have classes outside when it’s warm and sunny, your team members will get to bask in the sunlight and feel connected to the natural world. Spending time in nature is a known stress reducer, so having lunch outside is an easy way to help employees feel relaxed and clear instead of tense and muddled. Once again, “significant” issues with coworkers will likely seem mundane after enjoying time outside.
Discuss these examples of avoiding conflict in the workplace with your fellow managers to determine which ideas are ideal for your workplace. You can always experiment with some of them and see how they go before trying others. No matter what works best, remember that conflicts can still occur and that is okay. No matter how many preemptive measures you take, you cannot control the emotions and reactions of your team. What you can do is control whether the situation escalates or not. However, a little time and a lot of dedication can have a transformative effect on your work environment.
For more examples of avoiding conflict in the workplace and conflict resolution tactics, get in touch with our team today! We are here to help business leaders and managers everywhere.