In any organization conflict is virtually inevitable. People have different values, ideas, styles and personalities, and occasionally they will clash. These problems can range from interpersonal battles to disagreements about the direction of the company. For many managers, handling workplace conflicts is one of the most stressful aspects of the job.

To effectively address these problems and reach consensus, company leaders need to get all of the issues on the table so they can be discussed openly, and it’s important that all employees have an opportunity to be heard. This is where TurningPoint’s anonymous polling feature can play a role.

Promote open discussions

It might seem like a misnomer since anonymity is inherently non-transparent, but carefully crafted interactive polling questions and the open sharing of aggregate responses allow everyone to know exactly what the issues are. Rather than getting bogged down in peripheral details, anonymous polling allows company leaders to define the conflict in clear terms and discuss alternatives.

Give everyone a voice

One of the pitfalls of discussions in an all-hands-on-deck meeting is that the conversation tends to be dominated by the most outspoken individuals, and they may not represent popular opinion. With anonymous polling through TurningPoint response technology, even people who typically avoid the limelight have their say, and employees can contribute their two cents without fearing repercussions from managers or peers with whom they disagree.

Let everyone know where the group stands

In the heat of a conflict, perceptions tend to get skewed, and sometimes it’s hard to determine what the prevalent opinion is on any given topic. A meeting where employees contribute their opinions anonymously and all responses display onscreen provides a quick snapshot of where everyone stands. This information can be invaluable to executives tasked with driving consensus.

Signal when consensus is reached

Just as juries tasked with reaching a verdict may take votes periodically to determine where members are, leaders who are attempting to create consensus on potentially divisive issues may benefit from a reality check in the form of an anonymous poll. It can also be helpful to take a baseline pulse via a poll at the beginning of the meeting and periodic polls throughout to view how much progress has been achieved.

Workplace conflicts aren’t necessarily destructive, but organizations work best when everyone is pulling together toward a shared goal. In times of significant organizational change, the most effective leaders are those who are able to change minds and create consensus. But to have that opportunity, it’s necessary to understand what employees are thinking and to have a clear view of the fault lines that divide them.

Anonymous polling can be an incredibly valuable tool to help company leaders resolve conflict. By fostering open discussions, allowing all employees to contribute, providing a benchmark to move forward and enabling leaders to measure consensus, anonymous polling can help to get everyone on the same page once again.