5-Step Strategy for Resolving Employee Conflict
Conflict is inevitable in any work environment, no matter how big or small your team is. Despite your efforts to be the best boss ever, your employees will disagree on something, and take it out on each other. Conflict, if handled incorrectly, can become cancerous and detract from the entire team’s ability to focus and work efficiently.
But don’t you worry because we’ve got you covered.
Our 5-Step Strategy will not only help you effectively resolve conflict, but it will train your employees to resolve conflict between themselves (hallelujah!)
STEP 1: Establish a Cooling Off Period
When conflict arises, make it your policy to have the conflicting parties schedule a Resolution Meeting with you (or whoever handles employee issues). Not only does this reduce interruptions and help you better manage your workday, but it gives the employees time to cool off. Instead of trying to mediate when both parties are emotional, you get them in a far more rational state which makes conflict resolution exponentially easier.
STEP 2: Identify Personal Approach
Once the Resolution Meeting is set, have the conflicting parties identify their Personal Approach to conflict resolution. Having both parties review these approaches, and identify which one best describes their role in the conflict at hand will open their eyes to potential blind spots and limitations they hadn’t seen in themselves before. Priming them with this information in advance also makes it easier to call out negative tendencies during the Resolution Meeting.
STEP 3: Identify Shared Goal
When there’s conflict, it’s usually over something the parties are working on together. What was the shared goal before the conflict started? Was it completing a certain project? Was it working together to make a client happy? This shared goal is typically performance or production related, but it can be personal. Your job as the mediator is to make sure that shared goal ties as closely to the source of the conflict as possible. You want to drive home the lesson that conflict is hurting their performance and distracting them from their shared goal.
STEP 4: Acknowledge Personal Role in Conflict
Whenever there’s conflict, expect both parties to come into the meeting with their laundry list of what the other person did wrong. To disarm them and reduce defensiveness, have both parties acknowledge their personal roles in the conflict first. Have each person explain their thought process, why they acted the way they did, why they felt justified, and where they think they went wrong. This forces all parties to take accountability instead of blaming and finger-pointing. The energy in the room will shift from negativity to vulnerability, which will speed up the resolution process.
STEP 5: Propose a Win-Win Resolution
Once personal roles and perceptions have been discussed, have each person propose a win-win resolution for all parties, including for the company. Have each person explain what they would like to see happen, how it benefits all parties, and how this resolution aligns with company objectives or values. This step is major because it gets everyone involved in the resolution process which leads to better results in the long-run. This also trains your employees to better problem solvers in the future because it shifts their thought process from self-focused to company and team-focused.
This game-changing strategy means happier employees, better solutions, less time for you spent putting out fires, and more time working on the important stuff.