Conflicts are inevitable in the workplace and how these are handled can affect a company’s productivity. If these disruptions are prevented or minimized, everyone can focus on their jobs and work happily. Sometimes, even workplace mediation services are sought to help iron out conflicts and restore a healthy environment for everyone who was affected by their consequences.
When conflicts arise, workplace mediation can be simplified in a few steps. Managers can facilitate a more effective communication and conflict resolution process using the following steps.
1. Know the problem.
There are various reasons why conflicts happen between people in the workplace, including inadequate training, poor communication, discrimination or personality clashes. As much as everyone would like to avoid friction among employees, conflict is inevitable when people spend long times together. Before conflict affects a business’ productivity, a manager should know the root cause and resolve it immediately.
2. Talk and listen to the parties involved.
A manager should ensure that the first step in the resolution is to have a private conversation with the people directly involved in the conflict. A manager will not typically get their information from only one employee or even from office gossip. Usually, however, by the time a manager gets involved, other employees have already meddled with the problem and would like to share their two cents.
Before listening to other employees, a manager should have already obtained first-hand information from those concerned. Note the following steps:
- Ask both parties to explain their sides of the story and what they think are the reasons why and how the conflict happened.
- It would be best to speak with the employees individually instead of having them together.
- If you decide to talk to them at the same time, make sure that each one has a chance to speak.
- Ask the involved employees to share their ideas or solutions on how to correct or resolve the situation.
3. Set a common goal for those involved.
When both parties know that they’re moving towards the same goal, chances are that they will participate willingly to ensure that they reach these goals.
- In this part of the process, the parties involved should agree on their desired resolution of the conflict.
- Ask what each person would like to happen next and determine a similarity in both sides as the starting point for the common outcome.
- This similarity may be as simple as both parties wanting to end the conflict.
4. Explore ways to reach the shared goal.
Continue reaching out to both sides and discuss different ways they can reach their shared goal. Brainstorm, listen, and communicate together. Continue doing this until you have exhausted all the options.
- Begin by discussing ways that both sides can do willingly.
- Discuss the responsibilities of each person involved in maintaining the solution.
- This is also the time to pinpoint the main cause of the conflict to ensure that it will not happen again.
5. Regulate the barriers of reaching this goal.
In this part, the concerned parties should acknowledge the reasons behind the conflict and discuss possible problems that may hinder a solution. Reflecting on the possible upcoming problems allows you to find solutions and make plans to manage these issues. It’s also important to define what can and cannot be changed about the situation. For the things that can’t be changed, try to think of ways to avoid or get around these roadblocks.
6. Acknowledge the agreements of both parties and emphasize their roles in the resolution.
Finally, this part of the process should allow both parties to recognize a solution and accept their responsibilities in ending the conflict.
- The people concerned should own up to their responsibilities in placing an end to the conflict.
- Allow them to express aloud their agreed solutions to the problem.
- After both parties have accepted the win-win solution, request each one to use phrases such as “I understand that I am responsible for…”.
7. Consult the employee handbook.
At times, a conflict may arise not only because of clashing personalities, but it can be categorized as harassment or misconduct. Consult your company’s employee handbook to check for a conflict resolution policy with instructions on how to address employee conflict within the company.
Conflict in the workplace must be addressed quickly and equitably whenever it happens. However, it is also crucial to prevent it by creating a working atmosphere where friction is unlikely to happen in the first place. Establishing great employee relations helps create strong relationships between employees and managers based on trust, fairness, and mutual respect. Doing this may require effort and time, but such an atmosphere will support loyalty, motivation, high performance among everybody, and peace in the workplace.