Steps to Healthy Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Chances are you didn’t get offered your current job because you’re a master at conflict resolution. Unless, of course, you are. Typically, we get management roles because we hold a deep understanding of the work we do and perhaps can inspire change in the people we work with. This means that conflict could present issues you’re not necessarily ready to handle. Conflict resolution in the workplace can easily be broken down into steps that can make a daunting task feel less overwhelming.

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

The most effective way to enact conflict resolution in the workplace will include specific steps that address your individual industry and unique team. Each team has unique sets of issues, skills, and paths to a solution. However, general guidelines included in conflict resolution training will include the following:

1. Clarify the Disagreement

If we look at our daily lives objectively, assumptions make up more of it than we may be aware of. This is because when we don’t have all of the information about something, we fill in the gaps with what makes the most sense to us. This can mean that we may be jumping to conclusions or filling in gaps in places we’d be better off slowing down to understand. Be sure to get both sides of the disagreement so you can understand what exactly went wrong and maintain an objective view of things. Ask clarifying questions until you have a strong sense of the issues and each person’s unique perspective. Cultivating a company culture in which employees feel safe to express themselves will help support this action. Allow employees to develop a sense of trust that when they voice their concerns they won’t be retaliated against and they will be respected and have their needs addressed.

2. Establish Common Goals

Facilitate a conversation with each party in the dispute where all involved collaborate on a mutual goal. By holding each party accountable to a shared goal, there can be an increased sense of community around achieving those goals. Conflict resolution in the workplace relies heavily on trying to repair existing tensions while moving forward and not looking back.

3. Create an Action Plan

Take the mutually-agreed-upon goal and break it down into action steps that each party can contribute to. Allow the disputing employees to brainstorm together during this step so they can both identify their strengths and the strengths of the other(s) in service to this work.

4. Determine Barriers

Identifying barriers to the mutual goal can help reduce future conflict. In this step, it can be helpful not only to identify as many barriers as you’re able to spot but also to discuss what the appropriate steps are if unexpected barriers arise. This plan can help disputing employees work collaboratively in the face of a new challenge so that it won’t create a new need for conflict resolution in the workplace.

5. Take Action and Assess as Needed

Have both parties begin to take action toward the mutual goal and cultivate an environment of safe and effective communication where everyone can respectfully voice when things aren’t going as planned. This will help new barriers that emerge to be addressed directly rather than remain a source of tension. Other actions that can be taken company-wide to reduce future instances of conflict include communication skills training and conflict resolution training online.

Addressing conflict resolution in the workplace doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so if you’re struggling and need support, reach out to the professionals. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Two people having a discussion representing conflict resolution in the workplace