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How to Creatively Solve Problems in a Workplace

by Alejandro Russell

A 2008 study from CPP Global found that the typical employee spends 2.1 hours a week, or about one day a month, dealing with conflicts in the workplace. In the U.S. alone, that translates to 385 million working days a year. These conflicts can have a negative impact on your business through low worker productivity, reduced morale, increased absenteeism and even violent behavior. To address workplace conflicts, you need to be creative. The process should involve using innovative solutions to create a more positive environment for everyone.

Acceptable Behaviors Framework

Your business needs a framework that defines acceptable behavior by managers and employees. The framework, which typically comes in the form of a company manual, should guide workers on how to conduct themselves in the workplace. For example, it should define a chain of command and a communication channel for making complaints. Clearly defined job descriptions for all employees can also prevent workplace problems that might arise out of conflicting responsibilities. The framework should also state the modalities for decision-making while promoting team building within the organization.

Team Building

Team building exercises can resolve workplace problems by helping employees get to know one another better and enlightening them on conflict resolution strategies. An example of a team building activity would be to ask employees to compile a list of things that are important to them, such an item, relationship or event. Thereafter, they can share these things with other team members and explain why they value them. Such an exercise can help create bonds between team members.

Informal Counseling

Informal counseling sessions care a way to prevent workplace problems, such as spats between workers, from escalating into serious issues. Such sessions might involve having a manager mediate problems between workers. Resolving disputes informally can save you from the costs associated with a worker filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or some other agency. It also facilitates harmony in the workplace and restores productivity to business operations.

Effective Listening

You need to be an effective listener to resolve workplace conflicts in the right way. Listening attentively to the other side allows them to think critically about possible resolutions to their problems. To be good listener, avoid letting your emotions take over. Keep an open mind and jot down notes about what the other person has said. Show him that you understand how he feels and discuss ways to resolve the conflict in a calm and professional manner.