Steps to Resolving Conflict

Workplace conflicts happen everywhere, if we ignore them, it may be costly.  Workplace conflict is a drain on an organization.

Understanding the reason(s) behind the conflict may help HR assist with resolving the conflict before it turns into a face – off with employees refusing to work together or a screaming match.

Conflict is normal and healthy; some believe it is a vital component to organizational success.  It has been found that teams in which members feel safe enough to disagree with one another are the most effective teams.  Good conflict can lead to higher levels of trust.

Conflict becomes unhealthy when it becomes personal and emotional.  This impacts one’s judgement and it becomes cloudy.

HR should step in when:

  • Employees are threatening to quit over the problem
  • Disagreements are getting personal and respect between employees is being lost
  • Conflicts are affecting morale and organizational success

Step in resolving conflict are:

  1. Schedule a meeting to address the problem (preferably in a neutral place)
  2. Set ground rules for the meeting (e.g. all parties will treat each other with respect, make an effort to listen and understand each other’s’ views)
  3. Provide each participant the opportunity to explain the conflict, including desired changes. Direct the participants to use “I” statements, not “you” statements.   The participants should focus on specific facts and behaviors, not people
  4. Encourage active listening by asking the participants to restate what others have said
  5. Summarize the conflict based on what you have heard, seek agreement from all participants
  6. Brainstorm solutions; discuss all of the options in a positive manner
  7. Eliminate any options that participants agree are unworkable
  8. Summarize all possible options for solution(s)
  9. Discuss the option(s)
  10. Get agreement from all participants on next steps
  11. Close the meeting by asking the participants to shake hands, apologize and thank one another for working to resolve the conflict

https://shrm.org, “How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts” Tamara Lytle, July 13, 2015

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