Listen To The Article:
Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, primarily when working in a high-powered and sometimes stressful industry like logistics. We cannot always control our exposure to conflict in both our personal and working lives. However, it is possible to use workplace conflict management techniques to produce positive outcomes, dissolve conflicts quickly, encourage teamwork, and transform your business.
In the office or on the road, workplace conflict can create a hostile environment. Not just for the employees involved in the disagreement but for their peers too. It can hinder productivity, collaboration, and healthy communication, leading to additional problems later down the line. As the leader of your logistics business, all eyes will fall to you to provide conflict-resolving guidance to your staff.
Understanding how to skillfully and tactfully manage conflicts in the workplace can minimize their adverse impacts. In some cases, it can even swing hopeless situations to your advantage. Here is everything you need to know about good workplace conflict management in the logistics industry.
The Common Causes of Workplace Conflict
Workplace conflict doesn’t always stem from people not getting along. There are many situations and logistical issues that can create animosity between individuals and teams. They include:
- An inefficient working environment: A sluggish, cluttered, or inefficient working environment can make it challenging to find the documents or resources employees need to work effectively. It can cause frustration, negatively affecting their mood.
- Poor working conditions: Few things can demotivate and frustrate employees as much as bad working conditions. If your staff have furniture that’s less than ergonomic, dysfunctional equipment, and outdated technology, they could soon begin to take those frustrations out on each other.
- A lack of breaks during the day: Businesses that don’t give their employees enough time to rest and recharge tend to deal with more workplace conflict. Exhaustion and frustration breed tension. Your employees need several uninterrupted breaks every day.
- High employee turnover: Businesses with high employee turnover rates can quickly disrupt workflows and burden managers and more experienced employees. Relying on your seasoned staff to train a constant influx of new workers could also lead to burnout and conflict over time.
- Interpersonal disagreements: Employees can face challenges working with each other for a wide range of reasons. Cultural differences, work style differences, personality clashes, teamwork issues, and miscommunication are all possible contributors. You can address some of these, and other times, differences will remain. Finding ways through which staff can continue working together, in the long run, is the key.
- Leadership conflicts: Sometimes, even company leaders fail to get along for several reasons. Different employees may have clashing leadership styles meaning they stand at odds with the needs and interests of their peers. Logistics leaders need to understand their team members individually to avoid creating discomfort and causing conflict even if their actions have good intentions.
External Factors that Contribute to Conflict
There are a myriad of external factors that can lead to workplace conflict. Economic pressure caused by foreign and domestic competition, recession, changing markets, and the impacts of free trade between nations can all exert pressure on individuals and teams. Conflicts could also develop with suppliers and clients because of these factors, impacting customer service and the timely delivery of goods and services.
Due to political pressure and demands from special interest groups and major retailers and customers, logistics businesses can also face rapid regulatory risks. Furthermore, natural disasters and unexpected global phenomena like the Covid-19 pandemic can cause widespread, lasting disruption to supply chains. They force logistics teams to rapidly adjust their strategies to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market.
Tools and Strategies for Workplace Conflict Resolution
The only proper way to deal with workplace conflict and promote positive resolution is to implement intelligent workplace conflict management strategies.
Here are some proven strategies that will assist you.
1. Develop Conflict Awareness Skills
You can use conflict management practices to develop your conflict awareness skills and pass those skills along to your team. Having these skills will enable you to identify conflicts in the workplace and gain as much clarity as you can about the situation at hand before you act.
Start developing conflict awareness by following these key steps when a conflict becomes apparent:
- Identify the root problem at the core of the conflict
- Assess what is at stake for you and the risks you may be taking if you choose to address or ignore the issue at hand
- Assess what is at stake for the other parties involved in the conflict
- Analyze how you are handling the situation currently and ask yourself if you could make any changes to improve your approach and the outcome.
2. Foster An Environment that Promotes Conflict Resolution
Your workplace environment needs to be as neutral as possible to facilitate healthy conflict resolution. Let’s elaborate using examples of conflict in the workplace scenarios. Say two of your employees, Steven and Lana, are experiencing a disagreement over what Lana perceives to be rude and inconsiderate treatment by Steven.
If the rest of your team actively takes sides in the argument, they could fuel further conflict and hinder Steven and Lana’s ability to find a resolution for the issue. Encouraging a neutral environment lets all of these parties know that you want to find a solution or agreement and move on as soon as possible.
3. Keep Developing Your Workplace Conflict Management Strategy
There are many ways you can gain valuable conflict resolution skills and develop your workplace conflict management strategy as a result. A few essential tips to remember include:
- Use neutral language. Say ‘I feel’, ‘I think’ and ‘I’ve noticed’ rather than ‘you-’ messages.
- Avoid exaggerations and definitive statements like ‘never’ and ‘always,’ as they could exacerbate feelings of tension and blame.
- Take a moment to think about what you know about the person you are addressing. Consider their personality, communication style, and general behavior, as well as your relationship and history with them. Doing so will help you anticipate their potential reactions and communicate with them in a style that best suits their own.
- Think about what you need to discuss. Assess and identify the core issue that you want to speak about with employees. It will keep you focused and help to prevent you from veering off track. Communicate your concerns in a specific, straightforward and neutral way without accusation.
4. Focus on Behaviors, Not People
Taking an accusatory tone rarely resolves conflicts in the workplace and can make it worse. Be sure to focus on specific problematic behaviors rather than making comments about people’s personalities.
It’s crucial to be extremely clear about the outcome you want to achieve and be honest with everyone about how you think you could resolve the issue.
5. Hold Team Building Exercises
Team building exercises give your employees the tools they need to work harmoniously as a team. They boost morale and productivity and can also reinforce your position as a thoughtful and capable leader.
These exercises can range from a quick game to a meeting, conference, or even a retreat that fosters teamwork skills and assists your staff in learning about each other’s work and communication styles. Include your HR and management teams to provide them with a fun learning experience.
Workplace conflict management is a skill that can be fostered and enhanced through regular practice and thoughtful communication.
Effectively managing workplace conflict will enhance your team’s relationships, improve their ability to communicate clearly with each other, and build trust throughout your logistics business.