Managing and motivating employees are among the essential elements that contribute to the success of any business. One of the key aspects of directing employees is conflict resolution, which involves dealing with the disputes that might arise between them. No matter how strong your company’s culture is or how close your employees are from each other, conflicts are unavoidable at any workplace. Mishandling the conflicts or even worse, ignoring and neglecting them, will not solve the issue but rather worsen it, leading to serious problems. On the other hand, facing the conflict and trying to mediate between the employees in dispute is not easy but is essential for successful and smooth work dynamics in the company.
How to Solve Conflicts?
Tackle conflicts before they occur
Who wants to deal with conflicts when they can eliminate them or at least reduce their chances from occurring in the first place? This can be done by promoting a culture of cooperation, open communication, and respect between your employees and through your organization. Additionally, you can apply certain measures to ensure appropriate dealing with conflicts. For instance, by implementing conflict-training programs that are designed to teach employees the different types of conflicts and the reasons why they occur. They will also guide employees on how to deal with the conflicts and prevent them from turning into something bigger.
Even with the implementation of training programs, conflicts are likely to arise in your company. These programs will merely reduce the frequency of such conflicts but will never eliminate them completely. The first step in dealing with conflicts between two or more parties is to schedule face-to-face meetings to discuss the nature and reasons of the conflict as well as what each party’s point of view about the situation. Face-to-face meetings are a great way of establishing a safe environment where employees can openly discuss their issues. These meetings also help in calming the atmosphere between the people in conflict. The reason is that people tend to be more honest and less aggressive when talking to them directly rather than behind screens or on the phone.
Listening is key in conflict resolution
Scheduling meetings to sit and talk to people in conflict is the initial step that lays the ground for the key factor in conflict resolution, listening. Listening carefully to each side of the story is essential in better understanding of the situation. It allows you to examine the deep roots of the issue, leading to appropriate handling of the conflict. In most cases where handling conflicts were unsuccessful, misunderstanding of the key problem or issue was amongst the main reasons. Therefore, listening is not just hearing the story, but also reflecting on what they say and show understanding and sympathy.
Criticize the behaviour and incident not the person
As mentioned earlier, listening is more than just hearing, as it involves showing understanding and giving guidance. If you notice a glaring behavioural mistake, it is important to communicate that to the respective party. However, you need to make sure you criticize certain actions or practices, not the person overall. Criticizing the employee on a personal level would force them to adopt a defensive behaviour, leading to worsening the issue. Instead, you should stay focused on achieving the key objectives and resolving the main cause of the conflict. You can do this by being clear and concise in pointing out an exact incident or a behavioural error that they need to fix.
Don’t take sides, find a win-win agreement
In the process of listening, many people make the mistake of rushing to conclusions and blame one of the sides in the conflict. The problem is that you are not solving the issue. Instead, you buried its surface. Taking sides leads to dissatisfaction to the unfavourable side, which could lead to a toxic work environment. The key factor in conflict resolution is to handle the situation objectively and be a mediator between parties, not a judger. Being a mediator requires you to find a solution that fits and leads to the betterment of both sides. You can only call your conflict handling successful if both parties happily agree to the proposed solution.
Follow-up and communicate results
It is an essential step in conflict resolution to follow up with the parties in conflict after the implementation of any solutions. This is to make sure your measures are successful and that both parties are satisfied. When the conflict is finally resolved, you can invite both sides to share their story with the rest of the team. They can also reflect on their experience in the goal of preventing similar issues from occurring in the future.