The Delicate Art Of Conflict Resolution

by Kylee Stone Apr 28,2020

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Conflict resolution is the process of resolving a dispute or disagreement between two or more people by involving a third-party to help reach an agreement. Conflicts at the workplace are very common. If these are not resolved on time, they can result in a very toxic workplace culture. 

In an environment where multiple teams work together and have to collaborate with each other from time to time, it is quite common to have disagreements and debates. Sometimes, these debates go out of control and employees could start personally attacking each other based on their opinions displayed in the debate. This is not a very healthy culture to begin with. 

As an HR manager, it is very important for you to understand when you need to step up and resolve the conflict between employees. One very commonly made mistake by both HRs and team managers is that they try to resolve every minor conflict by involving themselves. It is important to realize the seriousness of the situation before you get involved. One more issue with conflicts at the workplace is that they get ignored. As an HR, ideally, you should be aware of any conflict happening at the workplace but it isn’t practically possible to keep track of each conversation your employees have. Which is why you should create a safe space for them to come to you and talk about the conflict. 

The first step is to spread awareness among employees and make them realize that they can ask their HR manager for help in resolving conflicts with their fellow employees. The second step is to analyze the seriousness of the conflicts and assign them to either the team manager or the HR manager based on the need of the hour. The third and most important step is to follow up after the conflict is resolved. Sometimes it so happens that the employees avoid giving out many details about the conflict to the third party and might still continue to have conflict or might still continue to add negativity to the team with their arguments and debates. 

Keeping these possible issues in mind, here are a few steps to conflict resolution at your workplace.

Create A Platform

Creating a safe platform is very important for the employees to come approach you at the workplace. As an HR manager, you should make sure that employees feel welcome through this medium. Different types of conflicts require different kinds of approach. 

Also read: Create A Positive Work Culture For Your Remote Employees

Sometimes you might have to contact the employees and talk to them in person and sometimes, you could just resolve it over a telephone call. So, it is your call t decide whether this should be done within the office or somewhere outside over a coffee or lunch. Take care to ensure all people involved have a meaningful discussion, rather than a gratuitous rant that causes more issues than resolution.

Approach Privately

Approaching these issues privately gives the employees a chance to rethink their actions and decisions and come up with accurate information and solutions. All you need to do is, address their issues privately and encourage them to express their feelings without any hesitation. 

Moreover, addressing conflicts privately also prevents others from the workplace from getting unnecessarily involved. 

Listen To All Parties

As an HR manager or a team manager who has offered to resolve the conflict, it is very important for you to pay attention to what the employees involved have to say. Do not interrupt them when they are expressing their issues to you. Encourage them to speak more by offering to listen uninterruptedly. 

This creates a sense of a safe environment and also sometimes allows the employees themselves to understand what actually went wrong. 

Identify The Areas Of Agreement And Disagreement

Once you finish listening to both the sides of the story, summarize the areas of agreement and disagreement between them. Ask them if they agree with your way of assessing the situation and offer to listen and change the summary until both parties agree with your assessment. 

Also read: Is Lack Of Employee Recognition Damaging To The Company?

Agree On The Best Way To Resolve The Conflict

Discuss which areas of conflict are most important to each of you to resolve. Give each person the opportunity to describe specific actions that they would like to see the other person take to resolve the differences. The requests should be practical and doable for the other person. The key to resolving a conflict as a third party iis to give both parties the freedom to come up with the resolution themselves.

Give them time to agree on it and then get them to sign off on it. Employees feel more valued and powerful when they themselves come up with a solution, rather than being told what to do. 

Acknowledge And Monitor The Solution Found

The last step is for you to acknowledge the solution and to convey both the employees about their individual responsibilities to keep the conflict resolved. Once both the parties have agreed to a solution, close the meeting by asking participants to shake hands, apologize and thank each other for working to resolve the conflict.

Remember that every conflict needs a clear resolution that acknowledges hurt feelings and finds a solution that begins to mend them.

Engagedly is offering a suite of products part of its Remote Work Toolkit free to any organisation, until Sept 30th, 2020. 

The Coronavirus has affected the way we work today and for months to come. Unprecedented events require unprecedented measures. We at Engagedly believe it is our responsibility as socially conscious corporate citizens to help equip organisations with additional tools and resources during this time of crisis.

Get in touch with us to know more about the free remote working tool-kit. 

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