Handling Conflict in the Workplace

When you reflect on key strategies for enhancing law firm productivity, handling conflict in the workplace probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But it should be. Unresolved conflict costs you and your team time, resources, productivity, energy, and morale.

The average employee spends nearly 4 hours per week managing conflict, tension, and miscommunication. As a busy attorney, you know that 4 hours is an immense amount of time during which much can be accomplished (or lost). You know how critical it is to stem this leak.

Even if your law firm culture makes it look like everyone is smiling on the surface, there can be underlying tension in team dynamics. Most of us are wired to avoid conflict, which serves our comfort in the short term, but—in reality—sets us up for failure in the long term. What follows are four tips from some of our country’s most exceptional leaders on handling conflict in the workplace.

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace: 4 Key Strategies

1. Pick Your Moment

Timing is everything in conflict resolution. You don’t need to leap into the fray every time tension arises, but you can’t afford to turn a blind eye indefinitely. The best time to intervene is the moment you have hard evidence that someone has misstepped. Wait too long, and you threaten your authority as a leader; act impulsively, and you do the same.

2. Respect Boundaries

There are boundaries that simply cannot be crossed if you aspire to nurture a productive law firm culture. This concerns actions, sure, but attitude and mindset, too. Establishing healthy boundaries depends on your team’s unique character and should be a collaborative process. The best way to go about this—both for yourself and your employees—is to host regular coaching or training sessions that model and put healthy boundaries in place.

3. Acknowledge (and Respect) Differences

Handling conflict in the workplace isn’t about imposing influence or exerting authority, it’s about communication and caring. Everyone has different needs where these subjects are concerned, and successful leadership means acknowledging and respecting this.

4. Face Tension Head-On

Often, leadership is about doing the things others can’t (or don’t want to do) and this is especially true of diffusing conflict. When you face tension head-on you nurture a safe law firm culture that assures your team that you care, and that grievances will be dealt with quickly.

Want to learn more about masterful conflict resolution in the workplace? Well, if you’re signed up for the Law Firm Admin Bootcamp, you’re in luck! This month we are offering an exclusive, 2-hour workshop for enrollees, entitled “Stop Avoiding & Start Handling CONFLICT.”

This workshop will explore “points of natural tension” on every team, common causes of conflict, and strategies for how to handle conflict when it arises. You’ll walk away with tangible ways to reduce tension, improve interpersonal dynamics, and level up your firm. Learn more, or—better yet—enroll in the Law Firm Admin Bootcamp here!

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