Workplace Conflict Resolution Strategies

Posted On: June 25, 2019
workplace conflict

Human Resource professionals wear many hats, one of them often being a conflict resolution manager. When arguments and problems arise in the workplace, most people will look to you for the solution. It’s up to the HR team to come up with creative ways to solve conflicts, while still maintaining a neutral point of view. Brush up on your conflict management techniques and learn some of our favorite tips for how HR can solve workplace conflicts in the post below!

1. Encourage Open Communication

Once both parties are in the same room, you will need to set some ground rules. Instruct the conflicting parties to speak openly, although you will want to ensure politeness and decorum are maintained. Avoid any yelling because that will only cause further aggravation and tensions to rise. Have everyone take a deep breath and start their stories from the beginning.

2. Listen to Both Sides

Before you make any judgments, make sure you’ve heard both sides of the story completely. Oftentimes conflicts take weeks or months to fully transpire, so plan on settling in and listening for a good while. As you listen, feel free to ask clarifying questions, but make sure they’re on topic. You want a quick and painless resolution, so don’t ask anything that would cause the conflicting parties to stray from the current argument.

3. Summarize the Conflict

Now that you’ve heard and understood both sides of the argument, summarize it and ensure both parties agree. This prevents you from spending time working on a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Spend a moment rehashing the conversation and have both conflicting parties agree that you have the gist of the problem before moving onto conflict resolution.

4. Remember You’re There to Problem Solve

Although you’re only human, you need to refrain from judgment and remind yourself that you’re the solution to their problem. Don’t waste energy trying to decipher the sources of the conflict, rather spend your time on creating an effective solution. Keeping a neutral stance will ease the problem-solving process.

5. Brainstorm Solutions

Oftentimes those with conflicts have their own solutions in mind, and they just need help enacting them. It doesn’t hurt to ask the question, “What resolution would you like to see?” Chances are, at least one of the parties involved has thought this through and will provide a solution. As an HR professional, however, it’s up to you to make the final decision, even if it conflicts with the proposed one.

6. Keep it Simple

As you’re solving the conflict, don’t make it too difficult; the best solution is often the simplest. Whether it’s requiring another meeting between the two parties, rearranging desks, or termination, a simple solution will suffice. By spending only a small amount of time on the solution, you will be able to move onto your other, often more pressing work. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be cavalier about the decision, just smart.

7. Be Transparent

What happens next? Will there be any notes added to their file? Will this conflict impact their upward mobility? These questions and more will be on the participants’ minds, and it’s in your best interest to be transparent and answer these questions before they even get a chance to ask them. Transparency in HR will make sure that people feel comfortable speaking with you and approaching you about future problems.

8. Set Expectations

Before you dismiss the conflict altogether, make sure the conflicting parties understand what is required of them as next steps. Whether they need to check back in with you or provide additional documentation, you will want to ensure they understand what is needed. This will prevent you from having to spend your valuable time chasing them for the required next steps.

9. Follow Up

A few weeks after the conflict resolution meeting, and once everyone has had time to calm down and provide any additional references, you should set up follow up meetings. It’s best to arrange separate meetings with each person to check back in and see how they’re feeling. This gives everyone time to rethink the problem and makes the employees feel secure in their decision to come to you.

10. Coaching

When people work so closely together for long periods of time, conflicts will arise. HR professionals can be proactive and provide preemptive conflict resolution coaching. If you’re able to provide tips for employees to solve their problems themselves, they won’t always have to come to you. Of course, during training make sure to note that this is for minor conflicts and that major conflicts should always be brought to your attention.

Use Training to Reduce Workplace Conflicts

Now that you understand how to handle employee conflicts in the workplace, give your employees a jumpstart on their coaching with our Human Resources Training. These training modules will provide them with consistent, up-to-date HR and compliance training, to help reduce the number of conflicts that arise.

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