Conflict is an unavoidable by-product of any working environment. It has the habit of popping up when you least expect it and if left for a prolonged period of time can lead to massive disruptions within the workplace. For any manager or leader of a company, demonstrating the ability to understand the root cause of a conflict and what actions should be taken to effectively resolve it, is paramount to restoring harmony to the workforce and helping the company operate more efficiently.
Dependent on the nature of the conflict, it is important to assess whether the conflict has emerged due to an innocent mistake or mishap. For example, if an employee believes they have received an incorrect pay, adopting an informal approach by talking to the employee directly should easily resolve the issue. In other instances where the conflict is deep-rooted and complex, a more formal conversation should be conducted, following simple processes to ensure that an appropriate resolution is reached.
First and foremost, clear discipline, grievance and dispute procedures need to be in place, whilst also ensuring that your management teams are fully trained in how to handle conflicts and difficult conversations. This knowledge will encourage management teams to set a precedent and tone for how situations should be handled. In order to fully understand a conflict, managers need to appreciate the importance of respecting employees’ feelings and listening attentively to what is being said. Failure to do so may result in missing the underlying issues that lead to the stressful situation in the first place.
It is also important to find a commonality between employer and employee. Demonstrating the ability to view things from their perspective will provide solace to the employee that their reaction is completely normal, and will serve to calm the situation. In line with this, the problem should be at the core of the conversation and not the employee in question. It is advisable that any issues should be resolved early on before they escalate into something more significant. Additionally, the ability to detach personal feelings from the situation will ensure that you are being fair with your advice on how to solve the conflict.
Each conflict is completely different, however the framework in which you use to approach it should remain consistent. Implementing the simple, yet effective tools mentioned above should assist you in successfully resolving a conflict before it escalates to a point where legal advice has to be sought.
If you require further advice or clarification please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.