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Dont hide from veterinary team conflict
Face conflict head-on to build a stronger team.
Does the mention of the word conflict make you feel uncomfortable? A conflict-free workplace may be a manager's dream, rather than their reality. Use these strategies to address conflict and minimize its impact on the office.
How do you perceive conflict? Do you believe a conflict-free workplace is a reflection on an effective manager? Do you fear that when conflict in the workplace is exposed the outcome will be an irreparable breakdown of employee relations? Or do you imagine you will lose control of your team if conflict surfaces?
Tension and disputes among team members may be the bane of your job, but avoiding or hiding conflict rather than confronting it allows negative emotions to fester and eventually will damage working relationships. Instead, use conflict resolution to build staff rapport.
The first steps toward improving relationships are to recognize the conflict, acknowledge the legitimacy of the conflict and use the knowledge as a starting point to build better relationships. The key is to remain calm when brokering the dispute. By refraining from attaching emotion to the dispute and instead taking a dispassionate approach to assessing the difference of opinion through active, respectful listening, you hear and understand core issues of the conflict. As part of the listening process, it's essential to gain insight into the feelings behind the words.
Keep in mind that team members have the right to express their opinions. When you shut down the discussion, no one learns about the other's point of view and disputes simmer, parties seethe and unspoken differences seep into and alter all areas of the work relationship.
With the right management tools, you can coax conflict into the open. When bottled emotion are diffused, they lessen in intensity.
Conflict aversion may work in a social setting. In the workplace, there is too much at stake to allow strong emotions and unresolved issues to be ignored. Good managers are prepared and willing to look conflict square in the face, from a rational and strategic perspective to help their employees move beyond conflict, grow and prosper.
Christine Shupe, CAE, is the executive director of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. The association is dedicated to serving professionals in veterinary management through education, certification and networking.