Conflicts in the workplace can almost relate to sibling rivalry. One individual wants things done his or her way, and the other one does the contrary. However, most of these conflicts are resolvable through amicable means. Unfortunately, they end up wasting people’s time in the office. An estimated 43% of a leader’s time goes into conflict mediation and resolution.
In some cases, the initial attempt to solve a conflict by a manager or CEO does not even do the magic. What even causes conflicts in the workplace? Is there a concise way of handling them, as they occur?
In this piece, we strive to tackle these two fundamental questions through proper and in-depth research. Most departures by employees in companies result from chronic conflicts that lacked resolution. The worst-case scenario is not even with fellow employees, but the boss. Conflicts not only destroy peace and tranquility in the office but also create havoc on your company’s performance and stability. The employees are the lifeblood of the company, and any problem that affects them directly affects the company.
Every manager needs to have a well-equipped conflict resolution toolkit. This means that they should bear all the basic principles of conflict resolution and settlement. It is not easy, but it is possible. All conflicts have their distinct modes of approach and root causes. However, the following primary techniques can apply to all of them appropriately:
#1 Set a few ground rules
A resolution will not sail through smoothly without some basic ground rules. However small it may seem to be at first, you will have a hard time settling the dispute without fair laws as an anchor. After all, where will you base your argument when coming up with solutions? Otherwise, one party will cry foul and claim that the mediation is partial.
Take the court of law, for example. You will not see a judge making a ruling based on his or her perception and views. He or she will have to base the argument or ruling on the rule of law. Conversely, the rules you set for the mediation process act as the stepping-stone to a just outcome. This way, nobody will complain of the other party getting favored.
Make sure that everyone involved in the conflict adheres to the rules strictly and precisely. Let them come into the resolution table with an open mind for any outcome, which should by no means be one-sided.
#2 Make it clear that nobody wins or is right
In a conflict resolution, the final destination is not finding the winner or the right individual. Instead, the endgame should be working out a reasonable solution to the problem, which will appease both parties. You will both remain adversaries on either side if you view conflict resolution as a competition.
Unfortunately, many bosses end up making this mistake when solving conflicts. Even though they come up with a solution, they end up creating an even bigger problem for both parties. For instance, as a mediator, when you solve a conflict by acknowledging one party as the right side and the other as the wrong one, even if you are convinced and sure, you are creating another conflict indirectly. The two parties will have a rift with the purportedly ‘wrong’ side feeling deep animosity and sidelining. This will make them rekindle the old flames, which you thought you had put off.
To be safe, make it clear from the beginning or at the end of the conflict resolution that nobody is right or wrong in the case. Let them leave on a standard and balanced decision, rather than one party chest-thumping for being right.
#3 End the blame games
Blame shifting is a typical tendency in a conflict. Both parties will claim that their ‘rivals’ were wrong and should be apprehended or dealt with accordingly. This should not carry on to the mediation table.
Concentrating on who made a mistake is not going to solve the conflict. Instead, you need to sort out the problem and unite both parties. Find a way of rectifying the error without crucifying either party.
Put more emphasis on the process rather than on the person that made a mistake. People do make mistakes and learn from them, ultimately.
#4 Be timely and right to the point
A conflict, especially in the workplace, is not something to procrastinate. Many bosses make the error of pushing conflict resolutions aside for later days when they have fewer matters to handle on their plates. As much as you may be busy with other company duties, you need to understand that your employees are more critical – thus, the need to create time.
Let us take an example of ignoring a deep cut on your child to finish up on the lawn – kind of a jerk move, or don’t you think? Similarly, workplace conflicts need your attention almost immediately. You need to convene a meeting as soon as you can and try to solve the arising problem.
Postponing the conflict resolution, like in the short narrative above, will leave the child in a worse spot with the cut getting out of hand. Besides, when you organize the meeting, make sure you go straight to the point and avoid beating around the bush. Tell the aggrieved parties to lay down their grievances and try to seek solutions together.
#5 Take time and learn about each parties expectations
At the end of the conflict resolution, what are the expectations from both parties? This is imperative to solving the conflict in the right manner. You might use your tactics, but without their participation, it is all in vain.
Ask them what tradeoffs they are willing to sacrifice or what both of them can put aside. Reaching a consensus means that both parties have confidence and satisfaction in the result.
#6 Get the whole story beforehand
Right before you start solving the conflict, have both parties write down or verbose their full account of the incident and how it took place. The perspectives of both parties are mandatory and, helps you construct a fair and just ruling.
Never be biased when solving a conflict, or else you will make one party leave the room with rebellion and deep-seated anger, which beats the logic behind conflict resolution.
#7 Meet both parties separately
Although many mediators or leaders skip this process, it is integral to conflict resolution. Before having both parties together, try to organize separate meetings for both parties and listen to what they have to say. Intervention usually needs a deep understanding of both sides, without any bias.
#8 Know when to call external mediators
As a leader, you cannot solve everything that comes to your table. If you feel that you cannot solve the problem from both parties, then it is only wise to involve external mediators. They will help you tackle the matter efficiently and arrive at a solid conclusion and solution.
#9 Try initiating a negotiation
If the afflicted parties decide to start negotiating right in front of you or by your initiation, the better it is for the resolution. Only come in when you feel that they are stuck or need intervention.
#10 Confirm that both parties are fully satisfied before concluding the meeting
As you wind up on the meeting, make sure that both parties are entirely okay with the decisions. Never allow anyone to leave the room or office with discontentment. If any deal with it and, make sure everyone is happy.
#11 Do not judge, center on facts
Avoid judging any side in the resolution process. It only brings rebellion and makes them defensive or angry. Instead, concentrate on the points and the rules you set up. These two should guide you into the decisions you make.
Tobias Foster is an exceptional journalist and editor for online assignment help. With five years of work experience, he has amassed a wealth of knowledge in marketing, business, and philosophy. He has proven countless times that he is a master of his craft.