Conflicts at the workplace are inevitable. Unfortunately, they can often lead to disruption in work and low employee morale.
The key to resolving workplace conflicts is having a plan to tackle such situations. In some cases, you may need to use professional consulting services to resolve the issue. As a starting point, you can use the following five steps in your conflict resolution plan.
A conflict may require a neutral party to help mediate the dispute. Ideally, you want to establish a mediator that both parties accept.
The role of the mediator is to assist and guide the disputants to find a solution to the problem on their own.
The mediator is not a judge, so they will not decide the outcome of the conflict. They simply facilitate communication and understanding to enable the parties to reach an agreement.
If a mediator cannot resolve the issue, you may need to take a different approach. A key step is to identify and define the source of the problem.
Gather information from reliable sources to understand what caused the problem. This includes asking questions to the parties involved.
In some cases, workplace conflicts are the result of a misunderstanding, and carefully listening to all parties involved can lead you to a quick resolution. In any case, this step is about information gathering, so you should not be in a hurry to reach any conclusions.
This step involves looking beyond the incident. Was there an underlying issue that caused the tension? Is there a history of conflict between the parties?
Understanding the context will help you understand the problem. Some information that is not directly related to the incident, such as something that happened months ago, could help you understand the real cause of the conflict.
There can be more than one solution to the conflict, so it is important you explore all options. You could even ask the parties involved to present their solution to the problem.
This will also help you understand what each party wants. The act of engaging the parties and asking for their solutions can help encourage them to see the conflict from a different perspective.
As one of the last steps, you need to focus on finding a solution that is acceptable to both parties. Instead of simply enforcing a solution, you should explain its merits.
This is also a good time to encourage the parties to show more cooperation and collaboration in the workplace.
It is best to document the resolution so there is no misunderstanding. You don’t necessarily need a formal agreement, though.
A detailed email to all parties involved should be enough. If the agreement requires certain actions that need to be taken by both parties, then that should be clearly stated in the email.
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