Conflict in a Social Work Workplace, Now What?
Conflicts in the workplace happen and can cause overwhelming stress to permeate the environment. Social workers and social service agencies are not immune. Co-workers become edgy and supervisors become avoidant. Supervisors can address conflict by being proactive. Employees will feel more at ease and will focus on workplace goals. The supervisor will be firmly in control of the situation and the work atmosphere.
Leadership in the workplace encourages motivating stress. Motivating stress is the natural stress response individuals experience when they are engaged in exciting or challenging situations. Individuals work to their highest potential. Accomplishment and achievement are also high.
Motivating stress is generally not recognized as stress. Individuals express the feeling as excited, motivated, challenged, aroused, or energized. When motivating stress permeates the work environment, there is a positive buzz that translates into positive feelings, good vibes, and high productivity.
Unresolved conflict encourages debilitating stress or distress. Employees lose focus and become obsessed with the negative interactions. Debilitating stress makes individuals feel bad. They have difficulty thinking clearly, may have depressed feelings or anxiety. These feelings negatively affect morale and productivity.
Social Work supervisors have excellent conflict resolution skills. In addressing conflicts among employees, supervisors must maintain open and active lines of communication with each individual.
Here are four principles I learned about dealing with conflicts as a supervisor in mental health.
Conflict is a symptom of a larger problem that is not always personal; address the root cause.
Trusting employees will discuss concerns with the supervisor; build trusting relationships.
Employees will look to the supervisor for direction and leadership; be open and proactive.
Supervisors take credit for unresolved conflict and give employees credit for success.
Always ask for and receive help; supervisors need effective supervisors as well.
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