5 Tips for effective conflict management

29.02.2016 By Laura.Parrack

The Cubiks team in The Netherlands held a breakfast seminar on the topic of conflict management. This event brought together senior HR professionals and line managers from a variety of sectors to discuss the issues around this important area and share best practice. We’ve picked out a few key points to offer some pointers on managing conflict in your workforce.

Conflict is not always a bad thing

Conflict is part of daily life, and as such it isn’t always exclusively good or bad. We all constantly negotiate internal and external conflicts to some degree at work and also of course in our private lives. If we accept that everyone experiences conflict, it can be discussed and resolved, rather than becoming a problem. 

Be curious about the conflict

Before attempting to resolve a conflict, you need to understand it fully. Four key points to always take into account are:

  • The basic issues from which the conflict has arisen
  • The type of conflict it is
  • The level on which the conflict occurs
  • The factors determining the best conflict management style for the situation.
  •  There is no single ‘right’ way to handle conflict

Everyone relates differently and there are many styles of managing conflict. These can be fitted into a matrix that takes into account two key dimensions; assertive and cooperative behaviours. The former connects with putting energy into meeting one’s own needs. The latter, putting energy into meeting the needs of another. Within this, there are a variety of styles, from competing through to accommodating. None of these is better than any other, they can all be effective depending on the situation.

Conflict can be productive

By bringing conflict to the surface, a problem can be addressed and action can be taken to reach a resolution. If conflict is ignored or hidden, the problem may never be truly solved. While not all problems can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, recognising that conflict exists and attempting to find a solution is always more beneficial than ignoring it.

Handling conflict productively is a skill

When you look at conflict management as a skill, it is clear that it can be taught and learned. Some people are more naturally apt at it, but nobody is incapable of managing conflict productively. Enabling leaders to explore their strengths and development areas is crucial to fostering this skill. Cubiks’ PAPI 3 personality assessment can be focused on leadership to support these professionals with understanding and developing their skills. HR can also work with leaders via the new Cubiks Leadership 360 review tool, which will help them gain access to this important self-insight.

Martijn Bakker, Services Manager for Cubiks Netherlands has a wealth of experience assessing leaders at all levels internationally. Martijn says “Conflict can only be managed productively after it is brought to the surface and understood. The causes of the conflict—and not just its symptoms—can then be addressed. Under most circumstances, addressing symptoms will lead to only temporary solutions. Each conflict situation must be specifically identified and managed”.

To find out how Cubiks can help your organisation assess and develop its leaders, email info@cubiks.com or get in touch with your local team.