Truth: when it comes to the workplace, conflict is unavoidable. Here are some effective and practical ways to manage conflict resolution in business.
Mastering and addressing conflict resolution is a topic that comes up regularly with my clients. Leaders with advanced emotional intelligence are aware of their surroundings and demonstrate empathy and compassion when dealing with conflicting situations.
I believe business leaders are responsible for creating a work environment that supports and enables their employees to thrive. Intervening and handling conflict is imperative to maintain a favourable business culture.
What to avoid when it comes to conflict resolution:
- Procrastination. Not intervening or ignoring it can significantly intensify the conflict.
- Speaking with individual team members when there is a group of employees in conflict
- Believing the only people affected by the conflict are the participants. Conflict contributes to the creation of a hostile workplace, infiltrating employees that aren't involved.
Steps to Mediate Conflicts in the Workplace
When teams or individuals are struggling to manage in the workplace, I recommend using a framework to work through the conflict resolution process.
1 | Meet together with team members.
- Ask each member to briefly summarize their point of view (without interruption or personal attacks).
- This short conversation should clarify 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.
- Reinforce the need to communicate with emotions in check
- Suggest they share no more than 2-3 recommendations
3 | Self-reflection by leadership
- Sometimes, a leader must own some of the responsibility and help employees resolve workplace conflict.
- Leaders, ask yourself, "What about the situation is causing these team members to fail?"
4 | If the situation needs further exploration, use a process adapted from Stephen Covey - ask participants to share what the other employees can do to remedy the situation.
- Specifically, they need to identify what the other employee can do more and less of and list what they can stop and start doing.
5 | All team members need to be part of the discussion and commit to making the changes necessary to resolve the conflict. They can start by:
- Noticing 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 to affect the workplace.
6 | Inform participants that you expect employees to resolve conflict proactively as adults by:
- Stating you will not choose sides.
- Reinforcing, you will only intervene if the team members have met and are unable to resolve the issue.
- Sharing that a person external to the conflict can't know the truth of the matter.
- Emphasize disciplinary action will occur if the team cannot resolve the issue.
7 | Reassure both parties of your faith in their ability to resolve their differences
- Assure them they have the skills to work together to resolve their differences, and the process will strengthen their relationships and positively impact the business.
- Demonstrate your appreciation and encourage them to continue with their successful contributions within your shared workplace.
- Set a time to review progress.
Without a doubt, a leader's ability to effectively and efficiently manage conflict resolution will have a profound effect on the culture and overall productivity of the business.