Workplace conflicts are an inevitable and toxic element of all organizations. Most leaders and managers, however, fail to address the problem immediately, and this turns out to be a big mistake. Office drama takes a lot of time and affects team productivity and morale. Fortunately, these can always be resolved through some smart mediation, and a flair for selling the solution to all parties involved. As a mediator, you might find the following strategies useful when it comes to nullifying conflicts that occur in the workplace.
Understanding the Source of the Conflict
Sometimes the real source of a conflict may be stemming from another issue. A colleague may have held their tongue during an earlier battle and then let their frustrations out during another minor issue. Finding the real reason for the conflict is the first step in resolving the problem. The positive thing that may come from this experience is a chance to foster clear and frank communication between employees.
Before things go overboard and the situation is forwarded to the Human Resources department, you want to analyze the situation and maybe even learn from it. Diversity in race and culture is not the only thing may target a workplace conflict. It could be because of gender or generation as well.
Generation Y may not always bode well when faced with slow-paced baby boomers who may not be as tech-savvy, and at the same time, gender differences may interfere with individual decisions. None of these reasons, however, are unsolvable. One of the ways is to reassign roles to create harmony and avoid future conflicts.
Common Ground must always be found
All conflicts can be resolved. However, to find a resolution as a mediator, you should find common ground. This is a critical step in rebuilding the rapport that has been lost. You may have to agree to a small change to make this possible and to resolve the conflict you must be willing to adapt to keep all parties happy.
Staying Level Headed
If an individual starts a conversation on a wrong note, it will end on a sad note. As a mediator, it is your job to stay level headed and be the one that makes sure that the conversation ends on a positive note. Another effective way to resolve the issue is to halt the conflict for the time being and then come back to it a few days later. This way all parties involved would get the time to cool off. More importantly, everyone would be less impulsive in what they do and say.
Convince Everyone to the Solution You Propose
Make sure that the solution that you think would work well in resolving the conflict is one that you are able to convince all parties on. One of the easiest ways to ensure this is to have everyone participate in the process of finding a solution so that the final decision to them feels like is one that they partly came up with.
Ignoring the Conflict is not the Answer
Most people simply drop an ultimatum, if their position allows it, or believe one of them must leave the workplace. As surprising as that may sound, a lot of employees quit jobs because they could never find a solution to such conflicts. However, in many cases, the truth may be that they never really efficiently tried to look for a solution that would be good for all.
An increased and unexpected employee turnover does not serve any organization well. It is essential to use any resources that you require in resolving a workplace conflict instead of treating it like another subject that is not important enough for attention.
Recognizing Conflict in Its Early Stages
If you feel you know the way most of your employees think and you detect a conflict brewing, make sure you are ready to have a productive conversation with employees where you are willing to listen, before the real conflict ever takes place.
If you also notice that an employee is visibly frustrated or angry, it is very much possible that any action by a co-worker may trigger that particular person and create unnecessary conflict, one that you do not want to waste time and resources on. Therefore, detect and pay attention to the signs that hint at these, and make sure you deal with them by agreeing on problem-solving.
Make sure that you keep some of the things constant. You must give everyone a chance to speak up about their side of the story without fearing that they would be ridiculed by you, you must look for common ground, and you must have the parties involved take part in the resolution process before you propose it.