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Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace


Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace
Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace

Handling and resolving conflicts that arise in the workplace is one of the biggest challenges managers and employees face. A research study estimated that managers spend over 4 hours every week dealing with workplace conflicts. This shows how persistent workplace conflicts are, as well as how they can impact productivity.


When conflicts arise, there’s a tendency for workers’ morale to be lower, increased absenteeism to increase, and decreased productivity — all of which can have detrimental effects on business performance. To reduce these challenges and foster a more positive work environment, it's important to address conflicts effectively and proactively. In this article, we'll explore actionable strategies for resolving conflicts when they occur and minimizing the likelihood of future conflicts.


Why Conflicts Happen and the Importance of Conflict Resolution


There are many reasons for conflicts in the work setting. They include:


1. Poor communication


Every person has their own unique way of communicating, and sometimes, these differences can cause misunderstandings between colleagues or between employees and their managers. When communication breaks down or becomes insufficient, conflicts may escalate unnoticed, causing tensions to simmer beneath the surface.


2. Different values and interests


Every workplace is made up of individuals who see the world differently. Conflict occurs when there is a lack of acceptance and understanding of these differences, either in subtle or more articulate ways. Differences in values and interests can manifest when employees prioritize personal objectives over organizational goals and well-being, neglecting the collective interests of the team.


3. Scarce resources


Too often, employees feel that they have to compete for available resources in order to do their job. For example, if multiple teams within a company are competing for the same budget to implement their projects, tensions may arise as they try to secure the necessary funds.

Even if resources are allocated fairly, perceptions of unfairness can fuel conflict. If some employees believe that others are receiving preferential treatment in terms of resource allocation, resentment and animosity may develop, leading to friction within the team.


4. Personality clashes


All work environments are made up of individuals with contrasting communication styles, work habits, or approaches to problem-solving. These differences in personalities can cause a lot of friction. Unless colleagues understand and accept each other’s approach to work and solving problems, conflicts will occur.


5. Poor performance


When one team member consistently underperforms or fails to meet expectations, it can affect the dynamics within the team. Other team members may feel frustrated or resentful if they perceive that they are carrying a disproportionate workload or if they believe that the underperforming colleague is not pulling their weight.


How to Resolve Conflicts in the Workplace


In resolving conflict, it’s important for HR teams to do the following:


1. Identify the cause of the conflict


Before solving a problem, the first step is figuring out what caused it. This means identifying what actions or events led to the disagreement. When everyone understands what's going on, it helps to avoid confusion and makes it easier to find solutions. Identifying the root cause or underlying issues of the conflict also allows HR to address the core problems instead of just dealing with the symptoms. 


2. Acknowledge different perspectives


Conflict often arises from differing viewpoints, priorities, and experiences. It's important to understand that everyone in the conflict might have their own perspective on the situation. When you recognize and respect these differences, it shows that you care about how each party involved in the conflict feels. This acknowledgment creates a foundation for constructive dialogue and collaboration, as it validates each person's feelings and concerns.


3. Listen carefully to both parties


Treat everyone fairly and find solutions that work for all. Listen carefully to both sides to avoid any accusations of favoritism. Even if you disagree, your job is to understand where each person is coming from to solve the problem.


Encourage both (or as many parties involved) parties to listen to each other, too. Often, conflicts happen because of misunderstandings. When everyone listens, they might realize they want the same thing, but in different ways.


4. Intervene early


Step in early when you notice conflict, even if it seems small. Intervening right away stops conflicts from getting worse and reduces stress for other team members, even if they're not part of the conflict.


If someone is openly aggressive, consider asking them to take the day off to calm things down. It's important to act fast to protect everyone's safety. Stop the outburst first, then deal with what caused it.


5. Encourage compromise


Often, workplace conflicts can be resolved through compromise from both sides involved. Identify areas of agreement and disagreement for each party and aim for a middle ground. Present multiple solutions and work towards mutual agreement on one solution that satisfies both parties. This ensures everyone feels heard and satisfied.


6. Follow up


After conflicts have been resolved, it's important to follow up on the outcomes and monitor the situation to ensure that the resolution remains effective. Follow up with the individuals or teams involved in the conflict to ensure that the resolution has been implemented successfully and that any agreements reached are being upheld.


Talk to them one-on-one or in groups to see how they feel about what happened. Look for signs of improved communication, collaboration, and morale, as well as any lingering tensions or unresolved issues that may require further attention.


7. Create workplace rules


To prevent conflict, HR must set clear rules or workers’ conduct policies to guide how employees should behave at work. These rules can be put together in a document that everyone in the organization can access. When everyone knows what's acceptable and what's not, conflicts are less likely to happen.


In addition to personal behavior rules, there should be rules for how employees interact with each other. There should be a clear hierarchy so everyone knows who to talk to if there's a problem. Also, each person should have a clear job description so they know what they're responsible for.


Conclusion


Although it can be difficult to completely avoid workplace conflicts, you can create an environment that minimizes them by implementing the strategies discussed above. If you need expert HR assistance, including conflict resolution, you can rely on our expertise at the Mission. Don't hesitate to get in touch today for personalized solutions that foster a positive work environment.


The Mission is a leading partner in the PEO, HR, payroll, and benefits outsourcing marketplace.  We provide result-oriented services for small and medium-sized organizations and government contractors, serving as a trusted partner in integrated human resource (HR) compliance, risk management, employee benefits, employment practices liability insurance (EPLI), and payroll processing




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