How to manage conflict at work?
In business, conflict can occur for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, it is essential to implement robust conflict management procedures and systems to effectively resolve problems while minimizing negative consequences on your team. While some conflicts are unavoidable, they should not have lasting effects on your business.
To resolve conflicts at work, they must be addressed and fully understood.
Ideally, they should be prevented, but as a manager, you will inevitably have to intervene one day or another to resolve them. When this happens, it is important to know the steps in the evolution of a conflict and how to resolve it effectively.
All employees need to know their rights and procedures in your business to manage conflicts. Conflicts can oppose employees at all levels on all types of issues. For example :
- Unequal treatment of employees.
- Disputes with managers or peers.
- Labor legislation not respected or partially implemented.
- Problems related to remuneration and promotions.
- Absence of an adequate conflict management protocol.
- Cultural or political differences.
- No consultation on changes in procedure or structure.
Steps in conflict management
As a manager, you can develop a sound strategy, problem-solving skills and a protocol that will resolve conflicts effectively. In addition, employees may experience some satisfaction when they participate in a professional, respectful and time-managed conflict resolution process. Familiarize yourself with the stages of conflict management so you are well prepared.
1. Before the conflict
Dispute prevention is an important part of any conflict management strategy. However, you must inform employees beforehand so they understand your procedures.
2. During the conflict
If a conflict is taking place, employers can take some key steps to ensure that it is managed quickly and professionally. Follow these steps to optimize conflict management, regardless of your business and industry:
3. Don’t ignore conflict
As a manager faced with conflict on your team, don’t expect it to resolve itself. Even if it seems to be the case, be proactive about the well-being of your team. A manager should create a safe and productive environment for his or her employees, but without overprotection or overconfidence trolling. Also, remember that conflict can also affect other team members, not just those directly concerned.
When the time has come for you to intervene, be careful to attack directly at problems that cause frustration or tension by avoiding blaming specific individuals or personalities. Stay focused on positive solutions and resolution throughout the process. All official company policies and documentation should also reflect this approach.
5. Use an independent mediator
If employees and managers do not resolve a conflict, it is necessary to seek the help of an independent mediator, i.e., a qualified mediator outside the company. He or she will assist the disputing parties in addressing their issues by encouraging them to listen and respect each other’s perspective. The goal of independent mediation is to find an agreement that satisfies both parties. It also reduces the risk of absenteeism or resignation which can be costly to the employer in terms of time and money.
Mediators also foster empathy and de-escalation, two powerful conflict management tools that help find sustainable and relevant solutions for your team.
After conflict resolution, ensure that the parties involved comply with all required documents. This includes a detailed summary of the solution found that must be signed by the employees concerned. It is both an important procedure for employers from a legal standpoint and a learning tool for managing future conflicts.
In addition, check in with employees regularly in the weeks and months after the resolution of the conflict. Is the solution implemented? Are the employees satisfied? Can we do more to improve the situation? Regular conversations with employees who have experienced a conflict ensure the sustainability of the solutions found, as well as the well-being and productivity of the team.
Conflict resolution is a demanding but important skill that managers must develop and refine throughout their careers. Never forget that humans reside at the heart of this process, you will succeed in developing a policy that is respectful and beneficial to both employees and the long-term corporate culture.
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