You just landed your big promotion and finally have the leadership role you’ve always wanted. But you soon discover an unexpected responsibility: mediating disputes between employees. This is a tool that’s an important addition to any leader’s toolbox, even if it’s not exactly the most fun part of the job.
Mediating Disputes Between Employees
In order to keep a peaceful, productive workplace, conflict needs to be addressed in certain ways. While we’ve covered many effective approaches to workplace conflict before, it is also important to know what to stay away from. Here are some things to avoid when mediating disputes between employees:
Avoiding The Conflict Itself
Conflict and the work of resolving it in the workplace go hand-in-hand. You can’t just wish away conflict or hope it settles on its own. It might, but you also should be prepared for when you’ll have to get involved. Waiting too long can allow the conflict to settle into the work culture and create long-term damage. Don’t allow things to get worse by turning the other way. Once conflict is apparent, address it.
When applying issue resolution strategies, it’s important to stay focused on the main problem. This is not a time to lobby criticisms toward someone, even if they may not be acting entirely reasonably. The primary goal of any mediator should be to de-escalate existing conflict, and the heat of the moment is not the time to reflect on what someone is doing wrong. Instead try to calm down the person and validate the hard time they are having, letting them know they’re seen.
When you’re the neutral third party, it’s really important that you know the golden rule of how to solve a conflict between two employees: Never take sides. Showing preference to any one party over the other could have a big impact, and it probably won’t be a good one. Disputing employees are in a vulnerable state and they need to believe that the person who’s stepped in to direct the conversation is not in cahoots with the person they’re most upset with at the moment. Remain neutral in order to see the biggest positive change. If this is a growing edge for you and you could use some support, conflict resolution services are available to guide you through your options.
Allowing Personal Insults
When conflict is high, so are emotions. This means the rational part of our mind is flooded and isn’t working as effectively as we may be used to. In this state, it can be easy to say things you’ll regret, like things that are a little below the belt. If you’re in the conflict, make sure you keep your comments about the conflict itself or you may find it hard to recover from. If you’re mediating the conflict, gently redirecting personal insults back to the problem at hand may need to happen frequently.
Unless firm guidance is needed in order to maintain a safe working environment, it’s more valuable for disputing employees to collaborate on their solutions rather than be told what to do. Once emotions have simmered and solutions can be observed, encourage your disputing employees to work together on a mutually beneficial solution. This will increase their buy-in and engagement with the solution, as well as their conflict competence, and it will also allow them to demonstrate to themselves that they can find common ground with someone they may have struggled to find that with previously.
When mediating disputes between employees, it’s important to take the right steps. Get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension at work. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.