Managers are often faced with the task of resolving workplace conflicts, but there are some conflicts that are better left to outside professionals. In this article, we’re going to discuss ways that a manager can follow in order to resolve many of the basic workplace conflicts that are found in your team. Basic workplace conflicts can be described as those that have just happened not too long ago, such as a few hours to a few days, and have not had the chance to fester and brew to a stage where the conflict is very complicated and hard to resolve. In those cases where there are long-standing conflicts between two or more team members, it may be better to get your HR department involved or call an outside expert mediator to come in and resolve the conflicts at hand.
Resolving basic workplace conflicts
- Talk to each conflicting team member individually. Before you have a chance to talk with each person individually, it will be difficult for you to thoroughly understand each person’s point of view and what they are conflicted about. The worse thing is to listen to all the hear-say and form a judgment on the situation before you have all the facts. When you satisfy each person’s needs individually, you will have the key to a successful mediation process
- Meet with everyone involved in the conflict at the same time. After you have had a chance to meet with everyone once, the next step is to arrange a meeting so that everyone involved can sit together and have a chance to voice their concerns and needs, uninterrupted. This is important because it is essential that each person involved in the conflict feel that their voices are heard and not neglected. There are times when basic workplace conflicts can be resolved simply by providing a safe environment for everyone to express their views to everyone else.
- Pay attention to the needs of each person involved. There are times that a person’s views will have changed and evolved since the first time you spoke to them privately. If you notice that they did change their point of view, make sure that you don’t call them out on it and just let them speak their mind. If you bring this up, you could potentially be causing further conflict without knowing it. Listen to them really carefully and try to find out why they have made these changes, it could sometimes be for the better as they are also trying to come a point when they can resolve conflicts harmoniously.
- Take everyone’s key issues and summarize. After you have heard everyone, ensure that you provide a brief summary of everyone’s key points so that everyone can have a thorough understanding of each person’s views. Do not forget to do this for everyone involved as the one that you missed could feel like you are bias towards them.
- Encourage open discussion towards a resolution. There are obviously two sides to the conflict already, but after everyone has discussed their side, try to ensure that you think of at least one other position on the conflict. Then bring this to the table and try to get everyone to think about all the possible scenarios and outcomes in order to resolve the conflict.
- Have everyone think about possible outcomes. Make sure to use a lot of “What if” questions in order to get everyone to think about all the possible outcomes. Sometimes some outcomes could be a potential choice, but people need some additional motivation to help them see and visualize it to become a reality.
- Have both sides negotiate. If people have already heard both sides and feel that they are ready to negotiate, make sure that you don’t interrupt them and just let them work it out. You can now listen to both sides and see where they’re at. If they get stuck at some point, help them to summarize all that they’ve achieved so far and remind them how far they’ve come since the original conflict
- Ensure everyone’s satisfaction before concluding. Before the meeting ends, make sure that you check with everyone involved that they are satisfied with the outcome. Explain that the purpose of a resolution is to meet their needs; it may not meet all of their needs, but at least the outcome should meet the most important needs that they have highlighted.
Using a conflict resolution strategy such as the one above will help you become a better manager and allow you to properly manage your team. Failure to do so will lead to conflicts blowing up in your team and leading to downtime in productivity and efficiency at the workplace.