When it comes to conflict in the workplace, be it a mega Fortune 500 publicly traded company or a relatively small mom and pop operation, employees always look towards the company CEO to step in and create resolution. Recently, Stanford University Graduate School of Business conducted a study in which a number corporate CEOs were asked to assess their responsibilities in the workplace. Almost the entire group of participating bosses said they would be willing to hire a mentor and/or professional coachwho would provide them extensive feed-back in both leadership skills and just as importantly, conflict resolution.
Corporate assessment professionals like the Kilmann Diagnostic Mission and Method is a good place to start. Conflict resolution by Dr. Kilmann, who boasts four decades of organization research and management consulting, is said to have achieved a method for conflict resolution via an integrated eight track sequence for what he calls, “Quantum Transformation.” His coaching and courses examinecorporate skills assessments, team approaches, strategy structures, reward systems, and even cultural differences between employees. But, it turns out, corporate conflict resolution isn’t limited to one philosophy or method.
That said, here are five strategies that corporate assessment operations might suggest to CEOs for mitigating conflicts in the workplace.
1. Look Upon Conflict Resolution asa Good Healthy Thing.
This might seem counterintuitive, but former chairman & CEO of DocuSign, Keith Krach, says that even before a CEO sets out to enter into conflict resolution mode, he or she must recognize that healthy conflict and disagreement actually plays a significant role in the overall running of a successful corporation and/or business. He adds that if everyone thought the same exact way, innovation would pretty much cease to exist.
By allowing for many differing ideas to be brought to the corporate table, the pros and cons of many options can then be discussed together in a team setting. This approach can help foster confidence and encouragement among employees. While at times it might cause conflict, diversity of thought is what truly advances business culture, Krach adds.
2. Stop Unnecessary Conflict in its Tracks.
The obvious antithesis of healthy corporate conflict is unnecessary conflict. This often occurs when employees lash out at one another simply because of personality and/or cultural differences. Although there are some positive aspects of unnecessary conflict when it comes to achieving resolutions, or at the very least, a truce, it’s more often the case that the friction can be downright disenchanting, and bad for employee morale.
So how does a CEO go about avoiding as much unnecessary conflict as possible? Corporate assessment companies like Kilmann Diagnostic Mission and Method might suggest fostering an environment of wide open communication. The more people speak with one another, face to face, airing their differences no matter how petty, the easier it is to maintain the integrity of the corporate team. If disagreement still exists after talking things out, it’s okay to agree to disagree.
3. Conflict Resolution Comes about by Respecting Boundaries.
Corporate assessment companies suggest that without being familiar with your many differing employee personalities, a CEO won’t have a good sense of how they will react to criticism and conflict. Thus the need for constant communication and open airing of differences.
Not knowing how workers will react to confrontation can quickly turn a simple case of disagreement into an all out war. Maybe it’s impossible for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to get to know all of his or her employees, but management heads can certainly make an effort. At the same time, they must maintain that all crucial open communication.
4. Conflict gets Resolved when Heated Emotions are Calmed.
Let’s face it, sometimes we just lose it. Corporate assessment professionals realize this, which is why they maintain that one of the biggest hurdles to successfully resolving corporate conflict is overheated emotions. This results in clouded judgement, and makes reaching a reasonable decision almost impossible.
The solution? CEOs and corporate managers must learn to separate the conflicting issues from the human beings expressing them. Keith Krach suggests that fear can often reveal itself as anger. If you’re not distracted bysomeone’s body language, tone of voice, and ability or inability to remain calm while expressing a differing opinion, you can then hone in directly on the conflict at hand and not the person. If one learns to communicate well, without getting heated, one will be respected for one’s opinion be it on the office floor, or the corporate boardroom.
5. Want Conflict Resolution? Nip it in the Bud.
It’s imperative that corporate leaders nip conflict in the bud as soon as it sprouts. Lots of people would rather dodge conflict. But CEOs, just like the parents of arguing children, must confront friction between the kids head on. It’s important that CEOs act decisively on tension and act quickly, before things get out of control.
If a team member has a history of causing conflict, it’s important for you, as CEO, to confront him or her right away. Avoiding that conflict will only cause corporate employees to lose all respect for you.
It’s not easy being a CEO for a mega corporation, any more than it’s easy being the president of a small or medium sized company. Not only must you be constantly concerned about production, the level of service you’re providing, and naturally, the overall bottom line, you must always be in charge of successfully resolving conflict. Sometimes, CEOs, no matter how strong of constitution, need some coaching. That’s when the corporate assessment, conflict resolution professionals step in.