Workplace conflict is inevitable, as employees with different personalities, work styles, and opinions are bound to butt heads. Learning how to handle conflict efficiently is the key to preventing it from affecting workplace productivity in the long run. Here are five steps to conflict resolution in the workplace.
- Identify the source of the conflict
The more information you have about the cause of a conflict, the more efficiently you can help to resolve it. You need to give both parties a chance to share their side of the story. Not only will it give you a chance to better understand the situation, it will also demonstrate your impartiality.
- Look beyond the incident
Often, the situation itself doesn’t cause the conflict, but the perspective on the situation. This can cause anger to fester and ultimately lead to a shouting match or other visible evidence of a conflict. As a facilitating force, you can help the parties involved to look beyond the triggering incidence to see the real cause.
- Request Solution
After getting each party’s viewpoint on the conflict, and looking beyond the incidence, the next step is to each identify how the situation can be changed. You want to get the disputants to stop fighting and start cooperating, and that means steering the discussion away from finger pointing and toward ways of resolving the conflict.
- Identify solutions both disputants can support
You are listening for the most acceptable course of action. Point out the merits of various ideas, not only from each other’s perspective, but in terms of the benefits to the organization.
Do your best to get each person to agree to one of the alternatives identified in step 4. It may be sufficient to meet with the individuals and have an informal discussion, while some situations need something in writing where actions and time frames are specified.
American Management Association. (2014). The Five Steps to Conflict Resolution.