In every workplace, conflicts are unavoidable. This is due to so many different people with different ways of thinking and those striving to achieve common goals.
There may be competition to get a coveted promotion, or it may simply be a matter of personality differences. Regardless of what is causing the conflict in your workplace, there are five essential steps for conflict resolution to help keep things harmonious and fair for everyone.
Steps to Take to Resolve Workplace Conflict
When there is conflict among coworkers, it causes distractions. These distractions can hamper your organization’s ability to be productive and meet necessary objectives. While conflicts will happen, conflict resolution strategies can help diffuse the problem.
1. Focus on the Issue, Not the Individuals Involved
Rather than look at the people involved, it is better to focus on the issue at hand. Conflict may arise due to limited resources. In this case, you should think about the process for how those resources are distributed rather than the workers vying for them. This will ensure a more equitable outcome and thereby diffuse the conflict.
2. Have a Neutral Party Mediate
When conflict is high, it is ideal to bring in a neutral third party to mediate. The best option is to seek out an expert in mediation. This can help you to identify underlying issues that are contributing to the conflict. By uncovering what’s underneath the surface, you can work to resolve the issues at hand.
Working with an unbiased party will help make all involved parties feel heard in the situation. You could try to resolve it internally, but even with the best intentions, one or all parties involved may feel that the resulting decisions are not fair.
3. Clarify Problems
One of the most important steps in conflict resolution is to listen to all the concerns brought forth by those involved in the conflict. You need to have a clear understanding of the problem. Ideally, you will work toward identifying the interests of each party and not their position in the conflict.
Understanding why something is important to each person involved can help separate the individual from the problem. For example, when resources are limited on a team project, you should listen to each person about their concerns and the impacts those resources will have on their ability to achieve certain goals.
4. Explore Every Option
With conflict resolution, the idea is to resolve issues in a way that makes it a win-win for everyone. These solutions may not always be obvious, which is why it helps to brainstorm ideas in a positive way. The goal of this exercise is to find a result that works for everyone in the conflict.
The right solution is something that feels fair to all involved. Asking each person in the conflict what their idea of fairness would be in this situation can give you the bigger picture.
Engaging in a conversation that encourages employees to look at things from a different perspective can also help them all come together. This way, you can clear up conflicts in your workplace and make everyone feel understood.
5. Agree on a Resolution
Everyone involved in the conflict should also be involved in the process of finding a resolution. With brainstorming, you can find out what would be fair to each person. This way, you can all come to a resolution that everyone is satisfied with.
It could be completely verbal to come to this agreement. However, it may be best to make things more formal and have each party sign an agreement in written form. This can also serve as a reminder of what was discussed as well as prevent similar conflicts in the future.
No matter the size of your company, it may be beneficial to bring in a consulting firm specializing in workplace conflict and resolution. They will be trained in the best practices to neutralize the situation, and since a consulting firm will be a third party, they will be unbiased in their role.
Even if all is going well at present in your organization, conflict resolution training from a third party firm can help prevent conflicts in the future, allowing both your company and personnel to flourish.