Employee conflict is a natural and regular part of any collaborative environment, with 85% of employees worldwide experiencing some form of conflict during their career. However, hybrid work can make dealing with conflict more difficult than it would be in person. Lack of face-to-face interaction, the absence of additional context, and loss of conversational nuance can cause conflicts to go unsolved and fester over time – leading to poor performances, low quality of work, and employee turnover.
Thankfully, issues with conflict resolution in a hybrid environment are just as solvable as in-person ones. We’ll take a look at some of the best conflict resolution techniques to prepare your teams for virtual conflict in the new digital world.
Filling in the blanks
Understanding motive and context is a key part of processing new information and surprises – especially unwelcome ones. When employees are uncertain about why their request was overturned or proposal was rejected, they can tend to assume the worst and take it personally. Left unresolved, this lack of context evolves into a lasting negative experience that has long-term repercussions on employee relationships and productivity.
A straightforward solution to this type of conflict in the workplace is a work management platform that can automatically provide the necessary context and historical reference for the decisions being made. Adopting a solution that keeps track of which decisions are being made and why, along with clear visibility into workflow and blockers, can help with providing some necessary context for work conflicts. It can also help employees collect all the facts and communicate clearly when conflict arises.
It also helps to always overcommunicate when conversing directly. This doesn't mean dipping into micromanagement but rather being honest and abundantly descriptive when dealing with conflict and potential risks. Details and intent tend to get lost in translation, and virtual communication tools are no exception.
Setting an example
Although in-office employees can just drop by a manager’s desk to clarify something quickly in an office setting, some employees may have trouble asking questions in virtual environments.
Encourage managers to be more proactive about conflict in the workplace to help resolve issues and miscommunications before they occur.
Managers can circumvent conflict prematurely by integrating face-to-face kickoffs when onboarding new teams. This encourages people to familiarize themselves more with team members and how each part of the company functions, making it easier for employees to approach one another. Managers should also maintain consistent one-on-one checkups and conversations and lead by example by presenting a measured and professional demeanor when resolving their own conflicts.
Work as one – not alone
Some employees may feel more isolated in hybrid work environments. Lack of personal communication, water cooler talk, and general uncertainty about how they fit in with the team can lead to problems down the road regarding productivity and collaboration.
A great way to work around this problem is to recognize individuals often and reward teams for working together. Take the time to celebrate wins at work, as well as personal occasions such as birthdays and work anniversaries. Create incentives to accomplish work together and acknowledge one another for it as well. It’s the key to helping people understand that each team member is looking out for one other and prevents individuals from jumping to conclusions when conflict in the workplace inevitably occurs.
Making it work for you
Each of these conflict resolution techniques will help you develop a strong basis for dealing with conflict in your teams as we move forward into the digital age. Preparing your teams to face these challenges can greatly improve productivity, morale, and quality of work over time and will be essential to succeeding in a hybrid work environment.
Looking to provide better context and collaboration in your teams? Start a free Wrike trial today.