Truth: when it comes to the workplace, conflict is unavoidable. Here are some effective ways to manage and master conflict resolution in business.
Mastering and addressing conflict resolution is a topic that comes up regularly with my clients. I believe that business leaders are responsible for creating a work environment that supports and enables their employees to thrive. Intervening and addressing conflict is imperative to maintain a positive business culture.
What to avoid when it comes to conflict resolution
- Don’t ignore the conflict, hoping it will go away.
- Don’t meet separately with people in conflict.
- Don’t believe (even for a moment) the only people who are affected by the conflict are the participants. Conflict contributes to the creation of a hostile workplace, infiltrating employees that aren’t involved.
Steps to Assist in Resolving Conflicts
When teams or individuals are struggling to manage conflict in the workplace I recommend using a framework to work through the conflict resolution process.
1 | Meet with team member(s) together.
- Ask each to briefly summarize their point of view (without interruption or personal attacks).
- Short conversation-clarifies the disagreement and conflicting views.
2 | Ask each member to describe exact actions they’d like to see the other party take to resolve the conflict.
- Suggest they share 3-4 recommendations
3 | Self-reflection by leadership
- Sometimes, you, the leader, must own some of the responsibility for helping the employees resolve their conflict.
- Always ask, “What about the work situation is causing these staff members to fail?”
4 | If the situation needs further exploration, use a process adapted from Stephen Covey - ask each participant to additionally identify what the other employee.
- Can do more of, can do less of, stop and start.
5 | All team members need to be part of the discussion and commit to making the changes necessary to resolve the conflict.
- Noticing that the other person has made a change, no matter how small.
- Treating each other with dignity and respect.
- Agreeing to disagree respectfully.
- Not allowing personality conflicts that affect the workplace.
6 | Inform participants that you expect employees to resolve conflict proactively as adults.
- Let the team know that you will not choose sides.
- Clearly, state that you will only intervene if the team members have met and are not able to resolve the issue.
- It is impossible for a person external to the conflict to know the truth of the matter.
- Reinforce that disciplinary action will need to occur if they cannot resolve the issues.
7 | Reassure both parties of your faith in their ability to resolve their differences
- Encourage them to continue on with their successful contributions within your shared organization.
- Set a time to review progress.