How to approach conflict resolution

Office employees supporting each other

Conflict resolution is a crucial skill for any employer as it works towards building and maintaining a positive working environment for everyone within your employment.

Any company that doesn’t deal with disagreements between colleagues in an efficient and effective way will only be leaving tempers to rise and grudges to build, potentially having a negative effect on working relationships and causing a stumbling block for workflow involving the disgruntled members of staff.

Why is conflict resolution important?

It’s perfectly natural for there to be differences of opinion between workers. In fact, it’s often a positive indication that your workplace is full of members of staff with initiative and plenty to bring to the table. However, there’s a risk that discussions will turn into heated disagreements, so it’s easy for things to escalate at a surprisingly fast rate. This means it’s important to know how to deal with conflict, and in some cases how to preempt it before arguments occur.

As far as techniques concerning workplace human resources go, conflict resolution is a vital component as it can be enough to affect working relationships and productivity as a whole. When carried out in an appropriate manner, your own process of conflict resolution can become a regular feature in your workplace, preventing similar issues in the future through a solid, structured protocol.

Companies don’t need to be full of people who perceive their colleagues as close personal friends, but promoting a philosophy of collaboration rather than conflict can lead to more positive ideas being shared and a more relaxed atmosphere for openly expressing opinions on important decisions.

HR and Employment Law consultant giving HR support to an employee to make them feel comfortable and secure

How to resolve conflict between colleagues

With any sensitive situations such as conflicts that arise within your workforce, the way you approach the matter is extremely important. People approach conflict in very different ways. For example, some employees may take a competitive stance and try to push their ideas and get their own way, while others will naturally be accommodating and have a tendency to subordinate their interests to those of others.

Certain people simply try to avoid conflict altogether by denying it exists or withdrawing from it. In contrast, others take a collaborative approach, working with colleagues to arrive at a solution. Often, this involves making compromises. It is generally best for employers to focus on encouraging a collaborative approach whereby the parties involved compromise and come to a resolution that they can agree on.

Depending on the severity of the disagreement, you might even need to put a disciplinary process in place if anyone involved is being unmanageable on the matter, but it will be something that must be judged on a case-by-case basis. It would always be preferable to approach any workplace conflict as an unbiased moderator between the disagreeing parties, but all evidence must be used to calculate the appropriate course of action to come to a resolution.


Why conflict arises in the workplace

It’s easier to prevent workplace conflicts if you understand the typical reasons why they occur. Frustrations can build from an almost endless array of issues, ranging from bullying and harassment to more complicated underlying problems such as unclear job roles and insufficient training. As soon as you’ve identified the primary factor that triggered the conflict in your working environment, you should be on track to stopping any further problems resulting from it.

The treatment and support of employees either by their colleagues or employer is an often recurring fault that prompts conflict. Things like a lack of equal opportunities, poor communication between members of staff, misunderstood business values, unresolved problems from the past and even simple personality clashes can cause major issues, and they’re only likely to worsen if you fail to tackle them early on.

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