Workplace conflict resolution strategies are important for leaders to have in their back pockets at all times. You never know when employees may start bickering or worse. Getting involved early, and implementing effective and respectful strategies, can be the difference between a manageable expression of emotion and a significant HR issue.
It’s important to implement workplace conflict resolution strategies as early as possible to avoid resentments festering and tensions building. Implementing the right strategies can be difficult but here are 6 steps to begin with.
Common workplace conflicts need to have an honest person acknowledge the difficulty of the situation. Sometimes avoidance kicks in, and employees, whether they’re directly involved in the conflict or not, want to keep going about their day-to-day while dodging the elephant in the room. Be open about what’s happening and what kinds of impacts it can have on the people touched by the issue. A manager being honest about the complexities at hand can set the early stages of open communication in the conflict resolution process. In other words, it can be very impactful for a leader to model effective and honest communication from the start so that others involved may be inspired to do the same.
It’s common for conflict triggers to go unrecognized for a while before they become unavoidable. Naming the problem as early as possible can help solve this. Workplace conflict examples where the problem isn’t defined include: when an employee consistently misses deadlines, which impact the work of others; but instead of addressing the issue with the employee, other people step up and complete their work. This type of conflict can erupt slowly and with a lot of resentment. It touches a lot of impacted parties which means when the dispute comes to the surface, many people are going to feel a certain way about it. This is the type of thing a leader wants to nip in the bud early enough so that arguments can be prevented.
Workplace conflict resolution strategies will often include a bit about letting disputing parties communicate honestly about their emotional state, while everyone else involved listens with care, empathy, and validation. This is an important step in simmering conflict because without each individual feeling heard and seen in their struggle, underlying issues will remain, and future conflict may erupt.
Where your disputing employees agree, celebrate it. It doesn’t matter how small the agreement is, it can be a path to middle ground and compromise. Your employees will be tempted to stay focused on where they disagree, but as a mediator, be sure to add focus on areas of agreement so they can inform a troubleshooting plan.
It might be tempting to want to take control and develop a solution on your own, but as the mediator, it’s more impactful to let those involved take the lead. Real life examples of workplace conflict where a solution is built by disagreeing employees are found to have positive results. This can be an opportunity for bonding or at the very least learning how to negotiate on important items.
Implement the solution as soon as possible, and add contingencies in case some folks don’t hold up their end of the deal. Cope ahead of time for that happening; that way, expectations remain clear and so do consequences. Following up with the solutions and any necessary reinforcement is just as necessary as any other step, so be sure to monitor and revisit the solution as needed.
If you need help improving your interpersonal skills or want to strengthen how you lead conflict resolution processes, Pollack Peacebuilding can help. We work with individuals, groups, and work teams to collaborate on solutions and creating long-lasting positive change. Contact us today.