Five steps to resolve conflict in the workplace
As a business manager and leader, don’t ignore conflict in your workplace or business.
Here are some tips to get you started toward conflict resolution:
Let them vent.Sit down with your employees one-on-one and give them a chance to talk through it. As awful as this may sound it can be incredibly effective. The key is to shut up and listen. Avoid the temptation to offer solutions and “fix-it.” Often knowing that you’re aware of the problem and care enough to let them talk will improve the situation. Validate their perspective without agreeing. (Note: this is also effective on significant others).
Task them with offering solutionsIf they insist that you fix the problem you might have some decisions to make but, first, put the task of offering solutions on them. Ask them to put five suggestions in writing and come back for more discussion. A good leader considers the perspective of those closest to the problem. They might have some really good ideas. Do your best to validate their ideas even if they aren’t feasible. Help them understand the bigger picture.
Stay open to creativityWe always want things to be clearly black and white but this is rarely the case. There are plenty of gray areas where resolutions can be found. Take a step back and look at the big picture. The solution may be complicated but will it improve the bottom line?
Seek to understand the conflictPerhaps there is more going on. What is the root issue of the conflict? Often, the noticeable aspects of a conflict are just the symptoms, and the problem can be deep and difficult to ascertain. Is it systemic? Personal? Externally catalyzed? Knowing the source, root or foundations of conflict can open doors to improvement and progress within your company.
Know when to seek outside help
If you’re too close to the problem it may be difficult to get it resolved. Often the help of a neutral 3rd party, such as a mediator or a coach, can help your frustrated employees work things out. This strategy will help distance you from the problem while ensuring that the discussions move in a more productive direction.
It is important to recognize that conflict happens a lot but it isn’t always a bad thing. Your bottom line can be improved if you’re willing to acknowledge conflict and address it early-on either independently or with the help of a neutral.