Managing Conflict in the Telework Environment

One night last week I gave a guest lecture on conflict management and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for a graduate organizational development class, Managing People and Groups in the Global Workplace,  for University of Maryland University College.   The professor invited me to share information about workplace conflict resolution because these students will eventually be leaders and have to know about resources for conflict management.

I  reviewed the history and development of ADR in the federal and private sectors.  We talked about conflict management strategies and the basic conflict management skills of listening, negotiation, investigation and reframing.  One class member asked the following question:  “With the increase in tele-work and the growth of organizations which include offices around the globe how does that impact conflict resolution in the workplace?”

With the growth of tele-working and remote workplaces there is less direct face-to-face communication between people.   This means that the body language component of human communication, which is 55% and the tone of voice component, which is 38% are largely missing.  Written communication must be crystal clear in these types of workplaces.  It is also vital that managers set clear expectations when communication is unclear and conflict and misunderstanding percolates in the organization.  [Read more…]