8 Steps to Workplace Conflict Resolution
Wherever there are people, there will always be conflict. Employee conflict is bound to happen at any company, regardless of size or industry. Ensuring that your company culture is strong and you are hiring the right people can limit many potential issues and conflicts, but it doesn't prevent them from ever occurring.
When conflict does arise in the workplace and impairs the productivity and performance of your employees, refer to these 8 steps on how to diffuse it:
Step #1: Encourage the employees to work it out on their own. Before management or HR personnel step in, encourage the employees involved to try and resolve their issues themselves by thinking about their situation, communicating in a non-accusatory or non-aggressive way, maintaining composure, and staying respectful. If handled in this way, the majority of conflicts may end here.
Step #2: If there's still conflict, it's time for the managers/HR personnel to get involved. If the conflict still exists after Step #1 and it's affecting the work performance of the employees, it's time to get their managers and/or the company’s HR personnel involved.
Step #3: Listen to both/all sides of the conflict objectively. Privately speak with both/all sides of the conflict. Be sure to stay respectful of privacy and listen with an objective ear. Taking anyone’s side may be viewed as choosing a favorite and will therefore only aggravate the problem and cause it to worsen. It can also cause negative feelings and resentment.
Step #4:Identify the real issue - it could be hiding. When speaking with employees privately, try to identify the real, underlying issue. Perhaps the conflict is only a small piece of a bigger problem that has been building, or maybe it has nothing to do with the other party or work. It could be a personal problem that is carrying over into the workplace. If personal problems are the issue, suggest taking some paid time off (if they have it available) or even unpaid time off to resolve their personal issues.
Step #5: Bring both/all parties together to discuss the conflict. Once you've identified the real issue, bring both/all parties together to discuss the conflict with an emphasis on staying professional. Like in Step #1, encourage the employees to think about their situation, communicate in a non-accusatory or non-aggressive way, maintain composure, and stay respectful.
Step #6: Find a common ground, encourage compromise, and work out a solution. Finding a common ground between both/all parties of the conflict can help bridge the gap that separates them. This is the first step toward working out a solution and/or compromise.
Step #7: Make sure no negative feelings are left behind. If either/any of the employees are left with unresolved negative feelings, the negativity can fester and become another, bigger problem down the road. That’s why it's critical to ensure that both/all parties have been heard. If they feel understood, it's easier to come to a solution/compromise that makes them feel positive about the outcome and valued as employees.
Step #8: Be positive and learn from the conflict. Workplace conflict doesn't always have to be viewed in a negative light. Treat conflicts as opportunities for employees to learn about each other. Clearing the air and working through a conflict can actually bring everyone closer.
Take Proactive Measures to Prevent Workplace Conflict
Besides creating and maintaining a strong company culture, defining acceptable behaviors that apply evenly throughout the company in an employee handbook and offering training to all employees on how to avoid and handle workplace conflict are great ways to take proactive measures against it. The best method is leading by example. Behave the way you want your employees and coworkers to behave, and you will be able to see a difference!
Contact us today if you'd like some advice on how to hire people that fit into your company culture and will be less prone to conflicts.