Conflicts are unavoidable at workplace. Business leaders and managers shouldn’t fear conflicts but they should have skills to resolve conflicts in the workplace.
Conflicts impact workplace in many ways. There are positive and negative consequences of conflicts at workplace. Leaving conflict unresolved can cause several problems in the workplace.
It can lead to decreased productivity, increased stress levels, and absenteeism. No employee likes to work in a stressful and toxic environment where most of their time is spent in experiencing conflicts.
Conflict resolution is important because it can help to improve communication, build trust, and create a more positive work environment. It can also help to resolve problems quickly and efficiently before they escalate into serious issues.
It’s responsibility of everyone at workplace to find amicable ways for conflicts resolution but leaders and managers have greater responsibility on their shoulders.
Let’s learn about some ways and methods which are helpful for managers for conflict resolution.
How to resolve conflicts in the workplace
There are many ways to resolve workplace conflicts; but here we discuss some important methods:
Understand cause of conflict
It’s job of a leader and manager to first understand cause of conflict at workplace. Before trying to resolve conflict, it is important to find out cause behind the conflict. This will greatly help to find solution or resolve the conflict.
Conflict may happen because of style of leadership, or personality clash or due to harassment behaviour or it can be due to bad habits at workplace.
Therefore, a manager put all his/her focus on investigating reason or cause of conflict.
Leadership is about taking quick actions and confronting the problems heads one before it is too late. Taking quick action is very important for conflict resolution. The sooner you act the better.
If you are hesitant to take quick decision for conflict resolution then someone else can fill that vacuum and you may lose your authority as a leader.
If a manager doesn’t act proactively then there are chances that conflict will get out of control and will cause huge damage to your credibility and reputation of organization.
Hear both parties
Managers should give a fair and equal chance to both conflicting parties to express their point of views. It’s job of a manager to hear both of parties and let them vent out their anger and frustration. You should also avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions.
Instead, you should ask questions and listen to what the other person has to say.
Managers should focus on exploring multiple solutions to resolve conflict. He/she should not decide about solutions before hearing others. This doesn’t mean managers can’t rely on their own judgement. They can analyze their own solution and consult other coworkers who are neutral in the conflict.
But the key is to explore different solutions, asses each of these and see which solution works for everyone.
Another way of doing this is to seek opinions of both parties about possible solutions. In this case, managers need to be vigilant because every conflicting party may suggest solution from their own perspective and which may benefit them.
Identify Solutions that are acceptable to both parties
It’s really hard part of entire conflict resolution process to find a solution which is acceptable to both conflicting parties.
After exploring different solutions, you can find what could be mutually agreed upon solution. Managers can make a Venn diagram by making three circles together in which different solutions are written. The center where all three overlaps could be the answer.
This solution may not be ideal but it is where both parties have at least an agreement.
Decide next actions
After having an agreement from all conflicting parties on one solution, then it is time to decide next actions with mutual agreement.
It’s important step because each of party must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them to move forward. Managers should document these next steps so that everyone is clear about it and know what are these steps, when and how to take these steps.
Managers must keep following up to track progress on implementation of these steps. They can discuss with conflicting parties that how they are performing these mutually agreed actions and whether they need any support form management in implementation of these actions.
Have a conflict management policy
Many companies have a conflict management policy in place. This policy outlines how conflicts should be handled and provides employees with a process to follow if they are involved in a conflict.
This policy document must define behaviour which are unacceptable in case of workplace conflict. This policy should be provided to every employee at the time of his/her joining so that everyone knows unacceptable behaviour and process of conflict resolution.
Sometimes making compromise is the only way to resolve conflicts. This means that each person involved in the conflict agrees to give up something in order to reach a solution.
Compromise of one person or a single employee can also resolve the conflict. For example, if two employees are arguing about who should get a promotion, they may agree to share the promotion instead of giving it to just one person.
Recognize opportunity in conflict
Manager should view conflict from a different perspective. There may a positive side of conflict. Many a times there is possibility of growth and development hidden in conflict. Because difference of opinions and divergent positions brings innovative solutions to the table.
In every conflict there is possibility that team bond will be further strengthened if that conflict is resolved effectively. Conflict resolution may help team members to understand each other and improve their relationship. So the entire team building exercise might be done during conflict resolution.
Therefore, it is duty of a manager and leader to recognize that opportunity what is hidden in conflict and use it for benefit of organization.
What actions Managers should avoid while resolving conflicts at workplace
Conflict resolution is a complicated and tricky process. Managers need to be cautious while resolving conflicts because emotions are high, organization reputation is at risk and financial cost is increasing during conflict time.
There are few actions that managers should avoid while resolving conflicts at workplace:
Based on their experience and knowing facts related to conflict, managers can reach to judgement and announce solution very early. But this a would be a big mistake. Never ever jump to conclusion and announce judgement without hearing all conflicting parties.
One of the best ways to resolve conflict is to ensure that you are not favoring any side. Taking side of one party always aggravates the problem. Avoiding favoritism makes managers more credible and both parties would listen to and agree to way forward proposed by them.
Never Allow others to control conversation
Managers must take control of conversation and debate during hearing point of view of both parties. There are some outspoken and extroverts in either party who always want to take control of situation in their favor. By allowing others to control conversation, managers would lose their authority on resolving conflict.
Never lose focus
Conflict resolution is a serious task. Managers should never lose focus on every matter related to conflict resolution. There should be a dedicated time given to conflict resolution so that irrelevant matters never take away focus of managers.
Business leaders and managers should take conflict heads-on. It’s their responsibility to find solutions and resolve conflicts in the workplace. Understanding root cause of conflict and taking timely action is the most important step. The key for conflict resolution is hearing all parties and reaching to resolution without taking side of any party.