Conflict Resolution

Conflict in the workplace is often inevitable, regardless of how harmonious or productive your team is. Employees have different personalities, perspectives and ways of approaching a situation, so diverse attitudes, emotions or goals become apparent.

While team members can resolve conflict themselves, as a manager or leader, you may need to mediate, offer guidance or find an agreement between the parties.

Below you’ll find a 5 step conflict resolution process that will not only settle the issue at hand, but also enable you to understand the catalysts of issues in your workplace, and how to mitigate them in the future.

1. Clarify the source of the problem

What is the issue at hand? The more information you have, the better. Give each party the chance to express their perspective on the problem and how the incident occurred. It may be best to talk to each individual separately in a calm and secluded environment, and be mindful of any pre-disposed bias you may have of the situation or the people involved.

2. Go beyond the conflict and identify other barriers

People can be complicated, and often, what we think we understand of the problem may only be the tip of the iceberg. It’s easy to lose sight of the problem at hand and take workplace challenges personally. Use probing questions to discover any other issues, emotions or occurrences that may have acted as a resolution barrier.

3. Establish a common goal

Now that you have insight into why the conflict occurred, adopt a solution oriented approach. How does each party think the problem should be resolved? What is their ideal outcome?  If the issue is professional, what is in the best interest of the business? If the issue has also become personal, you may want to focus on trust building.

4. Explore how they goal can be reached

Invite both parties to consider alternative solutions, any compromise they may need to make and how they can learn from each other’s perspectives. Focus on the bigger picture and explore options holistically.

5. Develop an agreement

Getting all parties to agree on the final solution may be challenging, but highlight the benefits of the solution to the individual and to the organisation. Ensure individuals feel valued, and invite them to reflect on the situation and what they learnt from the process.

While the conflict resolution stage may be awkward, dealing with it effectively is crucial to the success of your workplace and the satisfaction of your employees. 

Practising these 5 steps will ensure that issues are identified, analysed and resolved. It will simplify the process for you and allow you to implement open and productive communication with and between your staff.