Most people are lucky enough to have a workplace setting where minimal conflicts arise, but there will still be some which crop up from time to time. While most minor conflicts smooth over with time, major conflict requires further attention from those higher up in the business. It’s true that workplace conflict is never pretty, but there are some key ways to resolve it well each time it occurs.
Identify the problem
Before you can begin forming any kind of solution, you’ll need to get to the bottom of what the conflict is all about. Approach it first by asking each employee to come into your office separately to talk about it. This is a crucial step for getting less forthcoming employees to cooperate.
Unfortunately, while a necessary step, this can present you with further problems to contend with. Whether they intend to or not, employees involved in the conflict may present you with different versions of events. This is usually down to heightened emotions, which makes it more difficult for them to give an unbiased account. Regardless, this can make it harder to determine what actually happened, as well as what actions to take.
For this reason, it’s wise to try different ways of identifying the problem, such as:
- Inviting other employees in for a confidential, unbiased discussion.
- Considering common causes of conflict in the workplace.
- Asking the involved employees for a written account.
- Using set questions to encourage discussion.
Lead the discussion
Once you’ve established the issue, you can then bring each employee together for an open, safe discussion. During this time, your employees will undoubtedly have their opinions. However, it is vital that you lead the discussion so that it heads towards a productive end.
Asking emotive questions is a great way to keep the discussion on track, but remember, while empathy is important here, don’t let it cloud your judgment or authority. You can still approach conflict with a level head, turning to leadership skills learned during your leadership and management training course. If you feel like you would benefit from a course such as this, be sure to get in contact with Corporate Coach Group today!
Develop a plan
Conflict resolution doesn’t end the moment the conversation does. Unfortunately, some employees can let this conflict affect how productive they are in the workplace. This can sometimes disrupt the productivity of the entire office, and the success of the business as a whole. In fact, the CBI has estimated that workplace conflict costs UK businesses £33 billion a year.
This means that having a plan in place to avoid prolonged conflict is essential. Much of the time, this involves checking in with employees for a few days after the event to see if anything has improved. In other cases, sitting employees further apart and putting on team building events can also help. Or if your employees are suffering from long-term problems that increase their likelihood of getting into conflict, you could consider offering therapeutic support.
Ultimately, however, any conflict that involves sexual harassment, or harassment of any kind, will need to be dealt with using an alternative plan. Though you should always remain pragmatic, the wellbeing of your employees and the success of your business come first. Note that having an employment termination plan or bringing in legal support for these scenarios is perfectly acceptable.