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The LowDown

Conflict in the Workplace | 8 Steps to Conflict Resolution

Jan 12, 2020 | For Employers, The Lowdown | 0 comments

A woman in the background is mediating a disagreement between two men in this close-up. A finger is being pointed at one guy while the other is not assuming responsibility.

Conflict in the workplace is natural. Even at companies where employees go through screenings, workplace conflict is unavoidable. Unresolved conflict can bring down the office spirit. It does come with some opportunities. 

Healthy conflict can lead to open discussions and new ways to solve workplace issues. Unhealthy conflict, on the other hand, can cause tension and a decrease in employee productivity. It can also impact the entire team. 

Here are ten steps to help you resolve conflict in the workplace.
Step 1

The first thing to do is to schedule a meeting to address the conflict. It is best to make sure the meeting is in a neutral place. A conference room or empty extra office is a great place. If neither one of those things is available, use your local coffee shop. They tend to be quieter during the day and it will a good change of scenery. Plus, who doesn’t like coffee, tea, or fresh mineral water?

Step 2

Set ground rules. It is important to establish basic ground rules to resolve conflict in the workplace. Make sure everyone involved listens and respects each other. 

Step 3

Give everyone a chance to explain the problem. Instruct them to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. It offers your teammates a chance to think about bad behaviors. Sometimes “you” statements cause others to be closed to resolutions. Everyone needs to feel comfortable and not attacked.

Step 4

Ask each party if they understand the other person’s concern. If something is unclear, use this time to get clarity. Misunderstandings and personality clashes are two of the many reasons for workplace conflict.

Step 5

Make sure you, as the team leader or arbitrator, understand the conflict as well. Repeat what each party has said and get approval from everyone. Again, misunderstandings can be detrimental to the entire conflict resolution process. It doesn’t matter if you are involved or the mediator, communicating, and listening are crucial.

Step 6

Find resolutions to the conflict. Whether the solutions are good or bad, they should all be talked about calmly and positively. What is the goal? How do we want to resolve this conflict? What do we need to do to prevent this from happening again? These are the questions to be asked to assist in the problem-solving process. This mediation process works well between groups and individuals.

Step 7

Everyone must accept the resolution. It can’t be a one-sided agreement. If needed, write a note that each party has to sign. Each person needs to own their part in the current conflict.

Step 8

Shake hands! Apologize! Say Thank You!

Resolving problems quickly, instead of letting them grow, can stop them from happening again. Conflict can occur in any organization when employees come from different backgrounds and have different priorities.

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