Even in organizations that advocate a healthy working environment and rely on harmony among its members, problematic situations can still arise. While conflictual situations are inevitable, there are ways to achieve effective conflict resolution in the workplace.
Ignoring, or not addressing the problem adequately, can not only be harmful to those involved, but to the organization as a whole. Allowing the problem to continue without intervention can impact the work of others, and even affect the general work environment.
You need to be well equipped to overcome conflict management in the workplace, so here are 6 steps that can surely help you make the atmosphere harmonious again!
Let’s face it, when you are spending 8 hours a day with the same colleagues, it’s not really their experiences or education that will determine what type of relationships you will have with them…it’s their personalities!
1. Understand what makes them who they are
Conflicts may have different sources and causes: conflicts of values, personality conflicts, conflicts of interest, etc…
But regardless of the source and context, the first thing to remember is that everyone has a personality of their own. Everyone has different behavioral DNA, and a situation can cause completely opposite reaction from one person to another.
Understanding that beliefs, reflexes, and natural functioning vary from one person to another is the basis for analyzing and resolving conflict in the workplace. But beyond understanding what makes people who they are, we must above all learn to respect their thoughts and values, no matter how different they are.
2. Take advantage of differences and similarities
Being different is not a fault, on the contrary! In conflictual situations at work, learning to take advantage of differences in people is a good base for a quick return to effective collaboration. Take advantage of these differences by focusing on how they can influence others, and allow them to work in a collaborative environment.
Being too similar is not easy, either. Imagine trying to manage conflict between two assertive, skeptical, and intolerant individuals. Not exactly a walk in the park!
It is important to consider all aspects of personality, whether different or similar, to identify the optimum manner for conflict resolutions.
3. Choose the right mediator
Choosing a good mediator for conflict resolution in the workplace is critical to the success of an intervention. Assign this role to an impartial person, who won’t be in a conflict of interest and who can master different attitudes towards conflict.
To minimize adverse impact in the most delicate situations and avoid outcomes that might have negative consequences, the mediator must provide objective and constructive feedback, and suggest possible solutions for all parties involved.
Choose a mediator who is capable of differentiating between “normal” issues and those that are caused by “problematic” employees. In the case of the latter, it is highly recommended that the mediator have different expectations of the conflict management approach, and revise their strategy with the employee’s supervisor.
When you think about it, we spend a tremendous amount of time at work and alongside our colleagues. Not only is communicating and working together on mutual goals commonplace, but doing so in an environment that can be quite stressful, demanding and altogether fast-moving can definitely cause friction.
4. Meet with the people involved separately
To allow every person to give their side of the story, it is essential that the parties involved be addressed separately. During these meeting, encourage them to adopt a positive and constructive attitude.
Asking the right questions and adapting the intervention according to each’s individual personality will lead to effective conflict resolution in the workplace.
5. Meet with the people involved together
All the pieces of the puzzle usually come together during the collective meeting. Make sure you stay on track throughout this meeting, and focus on the expectations and objectives you were looking to achieve beforehand.
During the meeting, discuss various current issues, as well as the consequences of these on work dynamics. Awareness of the role played by each individual and understanding their own personality profile when confronted with others need to be brought forward objectively.
Identify the possible solutions that will create and maintain a unified team, and have been approved by all the parties involved. Try to get the commitment and willingness from each person to change their attitudes and behaviors, and work towards a more harmonious team.
6. Regular monitoring and feedback
Present the main points that emerged from the resolution analysis and write out customized plans for each person, taking into account their personalities and the professional relationship between them. Be sure to set realistic goals to avoid worsening the situation.
If this step is not followed properly, you might as well give up on your intervention. Offer support and guidance to the individuals concerned by highlighting improvements and giving constructive feedback.
Never be passive when it comes to conflict resolution. Choosing not to address a conflict will affect many more than just those personally involved. And attempting to resolve the situation before a conflict even arises is undoubtedly crucial.
Our jobs expose us to many different types of people; people we sometimes need to collaborate with on a regular basis in order to get tasks completed and projects delivered. If employees were all built the same way, with similar approaches to things and identical styles of communication and behavior, would this necessarily be a good thing?
However, when it’s too late to prevent a clash, there are tools that build on people’s strengths that can help with conflict resolution in the workplace. Whether these strengths are similar or opposite, opt for a constructive intervention where the best of everyone is brought forward. Focus on the positive achievements to rebuild the relationship.
Essentially, resolving conflict at work is not an easy task. Sometimes, it is necessary to equip yourself with specialized conflict resolution tools, or even get coaching by experts to achieve your goals. But whatever your situation may be, these six tips will definitely help you out!