Conflict doesn't have to destroy constant change

Use Conflict Management Icebreakers to Build Change-Ready Teams

A study by the American Psychological Association found that organizational change (including restructuring, new IT systems, or new leadership) increases employee stress. The research found that more than half of employees in workplaces experiencing organizational change report prolonged stress. And stress is a major contribution to workplace conflict.

What if your team was equipped to cope with the stress caused by organizational change? It would be better able to cope with constant change, and change would itself become less stressful and more effective.

Conflict management icebreakers could be the tool that propels your organization into a low-stress, change-ready business.

The Critical Nature of Conflict Management Icebreakers

The nature of organizational change means that your people are likely to work with others that they don’t know well. These may be outside contractors, developers, members from other teams, and so on. This can be uncomfortable, challenging, and stressful. 

Conflict management icebreakers help to establish openness, honesty and comfort. As such, many organizations consider them critical to the development of change-ready teams.

What Are Conflict Management Icebreakers?

Designed to encourage people to better understand others and become at ease in new groups, conflict management icebreakers allow change managers to prepare people to collaborate effectively as they navigate bumpy change journeys.

Icebreakers should help establish common ground between people, helping them to communicate more openly and with less conflict as they learn to understand each other better.

How Do You Run a Conflict Management Icebreaker?

Conflict management icebreakers must be held in a relaxed environment, bringing people together. Decide on how long the session will be, and ensure that longer sessions benefit from refreshments being made available.

If the icebreaker is conducted sitting down, make sure that everyone will be at the same height, so they communicate at eye level.

As poor communication is often at the heart of conflict, the icebreaker should be designed to encourage people to communicate with each other. Common icebreakers include asking people to describe themselves in three statements, one of which must not be true. The others must discuss which they believe is the false statement.

Another common icebreaker tactic is to ask people to collaborate as they solve a problem set for them. 

Managing a Conflict Icebreaker

When running a conflict icebreaker, a manager must not compel people to take part. Instead, by keeping icebreakers as brief as possible and ensuring that they are not complicated by complex rules, people should feel encouraged to participate.

Managers must take the pulse of the group, and ensure that the icebreaker will not cause any embarrassment to individuals. When supervising an icebreaker, the manager should watch for behavior that could disrupt the objectives, and set rules to help avoid this. For example, if the game involves making statements about others, all statements must be positive.

Conflict Icebreakers May Be Used to Address Non-Change Conflict, Too

Conflict management icebreakers may also be used to address conflict when it happens, too. When there is conflict between two or more employees, an icebreaker can bring the parties together and prepare them for a deeper conversation by reducing tension.

Coaching managers to manage conflict will help your organization to be change ready and prepare the workplace for effectiveness through constant change. To learn more, contact Forward Focus today.


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