Managing Conflict in A Virtual Business Environment

Today, the workplace has evolved a lot. A lot of companies are now focused on delivering quality while also minimizing the overhead expenses incurred. That means that a lot of people work remotely on virtual offices. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean conflicts do not arise there. Conflicts at the workplace can be a challenging task to handle and can interfere a lot with how you manage your business. Strife in the workplace is real and can be the origin of low productivity and frustrations. It is vital to managing workplace conflicts because they can end up costing your business money due to high turnover and staff training. Good management techniques can help you to avoid these unnecessary conflicts and deal with the upcoming clashes professionally and satisfactorily.

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When working with virtual teams, conflicts still happen and can even be detrimental to the progress of the jobs at hand and the overall well-being of your workmates. Since conflicts are bound to happen, it’s important to know how to solve these issues without escalating them further. These methods include;

Clearly define acceptable behavior

Given how the topography of the workplace has evolved so much. Lots of teams are working from remote locations all over the world. It’s a means to get some of the very best brains worldwide to work on a particular task without having to leave the comfort of their home or work office. Leaving the clear definition of acceptable behavior in the workplace up for the assumption is a recipe for disaster. Clearly defining what constitutes of unprofessional conduct is a huge leap in a positive direction. Having a framework for decisions, encouraging excellent business practices during team-building exercises and leadership development, will help to avoid conflicts.

Approach conflict head on

Conflicts at the workplace are usually on two levels; task related or interpersonal ones. In an online environment, most of these people do not communicate outside the tasks at hand. However, there still may arise some interpersonal issues that would threaten the relations between team members. It is a fact that you cannot always prevent conflicts, but it is better to prevent them either way. This is because when you seek out areas that are likely to have disagreements and to make a decisive decision, you will probably avoid a conflict from arising at all. If there is a conflict at all, the best way is to deal with it as quickly, fairly and decisively as possible. This helps parties involved to move forward as soon as possible. Time spent pondering on a situation in most cases inflates the situation and gives time for resentment to take root.

Do not use coercion and intimidation

When people have emotional outbursts and coerce others and think that the problem is gone, they are usually very wrong. This does nothing for you long term but just quiets the problem for a short time. This is until feelings have festered and you have to deal with the initial problem plus also the angry feelings as a result of the festering. It’s important to know when and how to play the “boss” card. This particular card is usually in terms of intimidation where you tell the employees to solve problem or else. While this might solve the problem a bit, it’s just a temporary fix at best. You also end up looking like you are playing favorites. Solving conflicts civilly and directly make sure that everyone leaves the table with an acceptance of how things have been resolved.

Online Dispute resolution training and workshops

When you develop conflict resolution skills and help staff to understand the conflict resolution process, you will assist managers and their employees in solving any quarrels fast and preventing disruptions in the business. Today, there are a lot of classes on the internet on how to curb conflict at the workplace without even having to leave your home office. Dispute training and workshops help people with topics that include; negotiation, managing healthy behaviors, prevention of bullying, leading groups and even mediation that contribute to tackling conflict easier. These skills will help employees to solve conflicts themselves in an amicable way.

Concentrate on the problem. Not the person

It is true that most people have met with people who are said to be “problematic.” This can be around your business circles or social circles. A particular person might not be the most agreeable, but if they have a conflict, it doesn’t mean they do not have a valid problem or issue. Do not focus on who the person is, but focus on addressing the issue. If you determine after careful consideration that the individual’s the issue, then deal with the individual. In many workplace conflicts especially in virtual surroundings, there is less likely to be bad relationship conflicts. However, these conflicts can quickly take a life of their own and turn into personal attacks albeit still in the virtual environment. In most cases, there’s a lack of face to face interactions throughout the entire period of the project. This means that the necessary bonds that develop as a result aren’t there. In such a case, this case quickly becomes a personal one where members of the team pick sides and even create grudges that can be very detrimental to the overall health of the entire team.

Conclusion

Managing a business isn’t always about money. Sometimes it’s all about knowing how to manage people and get them to work together in sync and for a good duration of time. By managing people the way it should be done, you will notice that overall production will go up, and complaints and negative energies will also disappear. When the team members are working in unison, there isn’t much you can do. One can prevent and manage conflicts as they come up in the workplace using these carefully crafted practices. When strife is solved quickly and efficiently, productivity and communication increase thereby making the work environment a good atmosphere to work. Do not generalize disputes but seek to understand each one individually and give it the weight it deserves.

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