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It is important to realise that conflict can happen in any business or organisation. As we all spend a lot of time at work, surrounded by different personalities, problems in working relationships can arise, which can affect our wellbeing. Causes of conflict in a workplace can stem from personal differences, poor communication or misunderstanding goals and responsibilities. It can also be due to organisational constraints and changes. You can read more about the causes and prevention of conflict in the workplace here.

Effective conflict resolution can build cohesion among colleagues by strengthening their self-belief and respect for each other. It can improve an understanding of each other’s roles, enabling colleagues to pursue their targets without undermining each other. Finally, it can enable employees to focus on the most important aspects of their job, making them more productive.

1. Take decisive action

Conflict resolution is not always enjoyable for managers, but it represents a window of opportunity to transform the workplace and the attitudes of all those playing a part in growing the business.

By adopting a non-confrontational and non-judgemental approach and showing from the outset that you value and respect everyone involved, you can harness the passion of your colleagues to turn conflict in the workplace on its head.

Resolve the conflict

2. Location for the conflict resolution

Helping to put a conflict into perspective is invaluable for reaching a resolution. Therefore, the first step should be to take those in dispute away from their normal working area. A neutral location will help to diffuse the atmosphere and remove the heat from the discussion. Whether this is a canteen, an empty office, a board room or even away from the business premises, it should be somewhere where you can create a comfortable atmosphere so the issue can be dealt with in a productive manner.

3. Listen actively

As a manager, it is important that you don’t assume anything or jump to conclusions, although you may need to set ground rules to ensure that everyone has an equal amount of time to express their feelings. You should adopt a positive and unbiased approach to encourage openness and honesty from everyone involved.

Managers should remain calm and objective throughout and maintain eye contact with whoever is speaking to show that they are being taken seriously. In order to clarify the dispute, everyone involved should be allowed to give their individual view quietly without fear of judgement, interruption or someone talking over their words. You need to gather all the facts of the conflict from each person’s point of view, clarifying where necessary.

Actively listening to resolve conflict

It is very important as a manager that you don’t abuse your position of authority by dictating a solution or overriding any concerns expressed during the meeting. This could cause fear and resentment within a team, and employees may be afraid to confide in you if further conflicts in the workplace arise.

4. Taking time to understand the issues

You should not rush the process. Take your time to understand everyone’s concerns, even if that leads to more investigation following the initial meeting. There may be more clarification needed on certain points, so it might be necessary to talk to individuals separately or other team members before reaching a decision.

Once you have ascertained the source of the dispute or conflict; have enabled all those involved to air their feelings in a neutral environment; have investigated the wider environment thoroughly, you should sit down with the aggrieved parties to discuss how the conflict can be resolved effectively, whilst ensuring the team goals are met.

Finding the best solution

5. The best solution

The best solution for conflict resolution is to find an outcome that all parties are happy with, enabling them to continue working together productively, whilst striving towards business goals. A manager should lead the group and if possible, encourage them to work together to find some common ground and put forward a conflict resolution everyone can agree to.

After the agreement has been reached, each party should determine their individual responsibilities going forward, so that further conflicts around this issue can be avoided.

6. Continuous evaluation

It is important that you learn from any conflicts that have arisen as well as the solutions that helped to resolve them. This will enable an effective strategy to be determined, preventing similar conflicts arising in the future.

It is also crucial to understand the team dynamic and the contribution of individuals to team productivity and efficiency. As a manager, you have an essential role in conflict resolution. So, by effectively managing conflict in the workplace, you can contribute to the overall success of an organisation in reaching its business targets.

If you would like to learn more about Delphinium management training in conflict resolution, please contact us so that we can support your professional development and help you become a more effective leader.

Published 13th June 2022.