Nip it in the Bud Before it Goes Too Far…Workplace Conflict Resolution Tips
Workplace conflict can arise at any time and it is often difficult to eliminate. This is because the workplace consists of so many different personalities, viewpoints and temperaments. Every employee has their own work tasks and every employee has their own personal career objectives and aspirations. Diverse points of view are a given in the workplace. However, dissimilar points of view can lead to conflict which can destroy employee teamwork, morale and productivity.
Managers should be knowledgeable of these techniques for effective workplace conflict resolution so they can end potential problems before they start.
- Do not avoid the conflict. Make sure you don’t skirt around the issue; face it head on. If a conflict is left unrecognized for a long period of time, the issue will come to a head and boil over.
- Do not meet with the antagonists separately. Meeting with the two parties involved in the conflict separately may create suspicion that you are taking sides. Meet with both parties together. If one party approaches you in private to make you aware of an issue, briefly hear them out. Then, explain that you all need to meet together to discuss it.
- Recognize other stakeholders affected by the conflict. The workplace often involves complex work dependencies. You must recognize that the two parties directly involved in the problem are not the only ones affected by the issue. There are other co-workers who are exposed to the conflict and you must take them into consideration.
- Declare impartiality. Once you have the contending parties in a room together, make sure you make it clear from the beginning that you are not taking sides. Let them know you want to arbitrate a solution that is in the best interest of your organization.
- Separate person from problem. Lead by example by keeping the person separate from the position they hold.
- Gather information and understand the problem. Never rush to a conclusion or make hasty judgments. Make sure that each person is allowed to state his or her point of view. No one should be interrupted.
- After a problem is identified, ask everyone to state their proposal and expectations of the other party.
- If you are a boss, find out if work circumstances were part of the conflict. Sometimes, conflict is simply a sign of a dysfunctional process within the workplace. Make sure to acknowledge the dysfunction and work to change it.
- Brainstorm; make sure everyone commits to the final agreement. This is one of the hardest parts of the process. Make sure you can find a solution that is acceptable to all people involved. Ideally, you want a win-win situation.
- Affirm your confidence in your employees. Make sure they know that you have confidence in each person’s ability to follow through with the solution that was agreed upon.