Unfortunately, conflict on construction sites can be a common occurrence. Disputes and disagreements arise when multiple parties work together, each having a different opinion or interpretation of how things should be done.
Such conflict has the potential to set you back from achieving business goals. In addition, it can significantly impact a worker’s psychological safety and mental health and contribute to poor physical safety. To learn how to protect your business and your people, read the following five strategies to effectively address a conflict while on the job.
How to Effectively Manage Conflicts at Work
You may have rules or guidelines that say discussions on the jobsite should avoid topics such as religion, sex, or politics. Or you might not have an explicit policy, but you cross your fingers and hope that manners and common sense prevail. Even if you work with a great group of people, you may have to navigate a dispute one day. Here are some tips on how to handle the situation when tempers flare.
1. Keep the Calm
The first step in de-escalating a conflict is to take a deep breath and remain calm. When you keep your voice low, slow, and confident, the people around you may mirror that calm behavior and feel calmer.
2. Use Language that Communicates Connection
Use phrases like, “I hear what you’re saying,” “It sounds like you’re very frustrated,” and “I think it’s important that we talk about this.” Many conflicts occur when individuals feel unheard, so when you let people know that you’re actively listening, their blood pressure may decrease. They may be better able to move from confrontation to discussion.
3. Tackle Disputes as You Would a Near-Miss
Identify both sides of the issue. What is the root of the problem? Is it work-related? Is it caused by jobsite stress, a problem with difficult or impossible deadlines, or an argument over timing or resources? Breaking down the problem into its smaller parts might make it easier to find a solution—which may be as simple as a process change—that works for everyone.
4. Remember the Big Picture
You may have to remind your people why they are where they are. The jobsite is a place for work and business. It is not their home or their yard. Employees need to be professional and keep the company’s interests in mind.
5. Take the High Road
Your people will trust you more if they know that you won’t engage in gossip or talk about people behind their backs. So don’t discuss a problem you have with someone before discussing it with the primary person involved. If it’s a tricky situation, you may need to involve someone from Human Resources.
Knowing When To Call The Police
Please note that the above strategies are for minor disputes and arguments. If you have someone on the jobsite who’s harassing or threatening people, you’ll need to take more swift and decisive action, which could even involve calling the police.
As always SAFETY MEETING OUTLINES, INC. welcomes your questions, comments, and ideas. We are happy to help you access additional safety meetings in our Library or advise you on conducting a safety meeting. Feel free to contact us by phone at 815-464-0200 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Time) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.