Conflict resolution methods are highly effective at managing conflict at work and improving your workplace environment. Ignoring conflict does not make it go away; use conflict management strategies to improve the workplace for all stakeholders.
Employee conflict is quite a common occurrence in many businesses.
Employees have different values, expectations, needs and understanding.
Employee conflict is not necessarily a bad thing - it can provide a solid base for changing and improving your organization.
Communication plays a big role in building effective conflict management styles.
Set up rules before meeting with the individuals involved. Rules such as, focus on the issues, not the people; actively listen to what everyone has to say; try to determine the objective facts; work together to find resolution (rather than make a decision to be implemented) or impose a settlement.
You need your employees to participate in resolving the conflict.
Collaborate: this strategy matches the needs of the individuals to build commitment and reach consensus. Collaboration can take time and energy and requires an environment of trust. In this strategy, both sides win.
Compromise: this strategy involves some giving and some taking on both sides; not a perfect outcome but one that works if both sides are willing and flexible. Often achieving a compromise can be done more quickly than collaboration.
Competition: this strategy puts one individual’s (or group’s) interests ahead of the other (often seen in labor disputes). While the conflict might be resolved for a time, the losers do not feel satisfied and the conflict may escalate into different areas. I believe this to be the riskiest strategy; it will minimize future cooperation.
Accommodate: this strategy involves one individual (or group) giving in or admitting they were wrong. For example, you might 'agree to disagree'.
Avoid: this strategy puts the conflict on the 'back burner' to be dealt with at a later time (often with the hope that the issue will disappear on its own). This is most often used when the conflict is not a large issue and/or when there are other issues in the forefront. Sometimes not dealing with the conflict through avoidance can result in the issue growing, rather than disappearing.
There will always be some conflict in every day life, and in the workplace. Some thoughts on managing conflict at work: Manage the conflict, don’t ignore it and hope it will go away. If the conflict is more than one issue, or there are a number of conflicts in progress, deal only with one at a time. Start with one that can be more easily solved first (if possible).
Try to defuse the anger in the communications – people say things in the heat of the moment that they will regret later. Don't rush to problem solve; sometimes the first answer is not the best answer. Let people think it over and discuss the next day. Don't set the conflict up as a right/wrong; win/lose situation – someone will leave the discussions unhappy.
Use your human resources staff to help you manage the situation or consider the advantages of outsourcing (if you have no human resources staff, this might be a necessity).
It's most important to understand the conflict from the perspective that there are times when you need to agree to disagree, and move forward. You will not always be able to get all the parties to agree and it's best to understand that and move everyone forward.
Visit Conflict Resolution Tips for more on conflict management styles.
Visit Conflict Management Strategies for more on managing conflict at work.
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(Note from Kris: I was happy to give permission to use as the source was fully credited.)
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