Conflicts in the workplace are frustrating, but they are nothing but normal and unavoidable. There are many possible causes of conflicts, such as the difference in personalities and beliefs, miscommunication, inability to accept criticisms, and working under pressure.
While you prefer to hire staff that can handle conflicts gracefully on their own, as a human resource professional, it is your duty to manage conflicts between and among employees before they escalate. If you are new to conflict management, here are a few steps that you can follow when you are faced with a thorny situation needing your intervention:
Listen without biases and prejudices
You may have heard about the particular situation from other employees or from one of the parties involved, but you should not be quick to judge. Society for Human Resource Management writer Tamara Lytle points out how necessary it is for you to be a skilled communicator. An effective communicator knows how to listen, so make sure that you get the perspectives of both parties. Listen carefully, understand the situation, and ask questions. Dig deep to know the root of the problem to inspire clarity. At the end of the conversation, you should also all agree about the main problem.
Explore possible solutions
The reason you want to get to the bottom of things is not so you would know who to blame. Instead, it is a means for you to brainstorm on solutions. Now that you have gathered all the necessary information and have agreed on the problem at hand, it’s time to enumerate ways to resolve the conflict. List all possible solutions including those that you may deem as unusual. Be creative and open to all ideas.
Agree to a solution
Now that you have listed down all the proposed solutions, analyze the pros and cons of each item carefully. While you may favor one solution over the other, make sure that it is agreed upon by everyone. Sometimes, you will also have to seek opinions of other employees to make sure that avoid such conflict from happening again. Once you have agreed to a solution, lay down the conditions and the next steps.
Seek outside help
If things have become too complicated, you may seek intervention from a reputable company offering employment law mediation. They have professionals who have dealt with many different cases, and they would know how to handle the situation best. You may think how unnecessary costly it could be, but if you don’t act on it quickly, it may cost your company more than you think.
As an HR professional, you should not underestimate your role in handling conflicts at work. Sometimes, conflicts may be personal, but other times, it could stem from much larger issues that the company should deal with. Yes, conflicts cannot be avoided, but they don’t have to promote negativity in the workplace. In fact, when handled carefully, conflicts can make room for a lot of improvements.