Everyone at work is expected to perform to a high standard, and often under times of duress.
This dynamic makes tension and pressure inevitable, and with the added issue of different viewpoints amongst team members, it can make an already tense atmosphere unbearable. This is bad news for workplaces, as it can lead to conflict, low productivity, and high employee turnover. Fortunately, there are ways to ease this tension, and we’ll cover five smart tactics to do so.
Encourage Objective Mediation
Workplace issues don’t just disappear, and will just escalate with inaction. One straightforward action is mediation. However, this should be done objectively, with the problem being dealt with openly and honestly.The Balance Careers lists some steps to mediation, the first of which is to meet the “antagonists” — not one at a time, but together. You’ll have to hear each party out, and work with them to arrive at a resolution. As the end-goal is to reach an amicable agreement, it is often enough to ease workplace tension.
Institutionalise Conflict Prevention Policies
Tension often leads to conflict, which is why companies need to institutionalise conflict prevention. In order to do this, an article from Chron entitled ‘Techniques to Diffuse Conflict Within Your Workplace‘ recommends that supervisors and managers get conflict management training, along with implementing a zero-tolerance policy towards abuse and harassment. Additionally, it is also a good idea to solicit suggestions from everyone as to how to best deal with tension and conflict, as they may have already had something in mind.
Leverage Constructive Conflict
Tension in the workplace is sometimes necessary. This is the case put forth by Morphic Therapeutic CEO Praveen Tipirneni, who argues that “An element of tension and conflict is always necessary if your standards are high.” Reason being is that conflict will compel all involved to commiserate deeply, and try to look for ways to resolve the misunderstanding. It will also prompt concerned sides to open up and air their positions. The key is to not let the conflict boil over and instead make sure that everyone sets aside their egos, finds the time to address the issue, and then focus on one end-goal: conflict resolution.
Embracing Technological Changes
When a company undergoes a digital transformation, this can cause a lot of disruption and tension in the office, which is why companies need to be very careful in how they handle any change. Harvard Business Review details how digital transformation is neither disruptive nor intrusive, as long as it is done in phases, and using the right digital tools that can help companies discover new opportunities. The trade-off, as in the case of travel agency TUI, can be steady growth buoyed by enhanced customer experience. The transformation in itself, however, can be the cause of friction within a company - notably in making changes to the oftentimes rigid back-end legacy content management systems (CMS). This can cause stress amongst those who have been used to doing something a certain way and are now being forced to change.
The work-around in this case is using the right digital tools. Updatable explains that is possible to update a CMS with minimal disruption by simplifying the editing process, applying status codes, optimising headings, and removing error pages. These can prevent code freezes, and allow the team undergoing the change to work with minimal disruption and interdepartmental conflict in order to focus on the greater goal of digital transformation. Streamlining vital processes will help you avoid friction points between employees that come with trying to make important changes.
Employees who are stressed often are irritable, and this creates a tense atmosphere. Thus, it is imperative that everyone gets to de-stress and unwind every once in a while when necessary. Forbes’ list of simple ways to cut employee stress recommends brightening up the office with colours and natural light, opening up communication lines (see previous section), and preparing healthy snacks for everyone. Additionally, it helps if employees and managers can engage in some friendly banter from time to time or do group exercises and team building. These stress-busting activities can go a long way towards easing workplace tension.
A Final Note
Finally, you’ll need to foster good communication as well, as it is key to cultivating teamwork. It can be achieved only if there are opportunities for collaboration and discussion. Having said that, you can make use of the Karma bot in-chat peer engagement and recognition system. This tool encourages team appreciation and performance tracking, all while providing feedback and reward-giving mechanisms.