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Crazy-Smart Mentoring Topics: Improve Your Workplace Conflict Skills

conflict resolution skills in the workplace

Crazy-Smart Mentoring Topics: Improve Your Workplace Conflict Skills

Done correctly, the experience of being a mentee can radically advance your career and change your life.

The mentee typically has the most to gain from the relationship, and the mentee can maximize the benefit by being bold in conversations with their mentor. eMentorConnect offers this second of a five-part series on game-changing mentoring topics, to help mentees make the most of their mentorship opportunity.

This post in the series focuses on improving your workplace conflict skills.

Workplace or war zone? YOU make the difference. Ask your mentor to candidly assess your skills and share new approaches.

Workplace Conflict Resolution StrategiesToday’s business environment is chock-full of company mergers and a dizzying level of employee turnover. Accelerated business cycles and faster speed to market turn the heat up even higher on new team members who may not know each other well. Employees who can ‘rise above’ and manage workplace conflict constructively are pure gold, and they can expect to enjoy the mantle of leadership sooner than their less constructive counterparts. This means it’s imperative to lean on your mentor for feedback on how to improve your conflict toolkit.

Everyone has a few methods to deal with conflict – or you wouldn’t have survived high school! Most people are still using those same methods in the workplace and the resulting conflict is almost inevitable. The effective professional has evolved beyond the methods we learned in our early years. Your mentor is an excellent resource for getting feedback on your current methods, and for learning new techniques that will expand your playbook. Find out what’s worked for your mentor – and what hasn’t. Sharing experiences and knowledge is invaluable. Ask your mentor these questions:

  • How do you encourage employees work out issues on their own
  • How can we maximize the benefit of an increasingly diverse workplace?
  • What open-ended questions will help me lead a team to shift from conflict to opportunity?
  • What kinds of ‘personality type’ instruments can help me understand how my perspective and style differs from others?

Beyond questions: Describe to your mentor a specific instance where your attempts at conflict management seemed to be going smoothly – and then suddenly they weren’t. Do you know what happened? Do you know why it happened? Share your thought processes with your mentor, and see if you can glean new insight on how you might have handled it differently. Ask your mentor for brutal honesty here, and set your ego aside in hearing their feedback.   

Why Should Your Company Care?

Conflict at work goes far beyond the personal realm. The tension caused by employee conflicts can have a negative effect on the company as a whole.  A study commissioned by CPP Inc. — publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument — says that U.S. employees spend more than two hours per week involved with conflict. This equates to roughly $359 BILLION in paid hours. That’s some serious lost productivity. According to the MTI Measure of Financial Cost Conflict, unmanaged employee conflict is the largest reducible cost in organizations today. In fact, more than 65 percent of performance problems result from strained relationships, not from a lack of skills or motivation. And as the saying goes, “people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses”. Equipping your team with a broader array of conflict management skills will reduce turnover, improve retention, and – unsurprisingly – result in higher productivity.

When conflict resolution goes well, even more intangibles come out of it that don’t just include back-slapping colleagues, but perhaps process improvements, healthy competition, creativity and innovation. When you have someone on the team who knows how to tame wild horses, consider creating a mentoring opportunity where they can germinate their skills among their colleagues. Hopefully, your team will be pulling in the same direction toward the company’s goals, while creating a culture that promotes well-being at the individual level.

eMentorConnect can create your ideal workplace mentoring program, or automate your existing mentoring program. Start reaping the benefits today! Click here for a demo.

Liisa Andreassen

Liisa is a freelance writer and editor. She has a strong background in writing about management, marketing and HR technology. She also has a passion for connecting people – personally and professionally.