Smart Conflict Resolution

by | May 1, 2014 | Employers Tips

Conflicts at the workplace are bound to happen, but it is how you respond to it that matters the most. When dealing with conflict in the workplace, the manager must always consider the underlying causes, which is what need to be addressed.

The following issues often increase conflicts at work:Signature Staff HR Services

  • Lacking clearly defined roles and responsibilities.If a manager is not clear of the roles and responsibilities of an employee, then the employee is left trying to find out what they are responsible for, making it even harder for them to be successful performers and will in the end cause both parties to be upset with each other. Having a well-developed job description and clearly defined policies, including code of conduct will be of great assistance.
  • Not understanding the core values. Many times when a conflict arises at work, it is not about the surface issues but rather it is about something deeper. By clearly explaining the organisation’s core values and goals, you can help eliminate many potential conflicts.
  • Different personal lenses and filters to interpret the world. Each employee has different set of lenses and filers to see and respond to issues, or ideas. By understanding (or seek to understand) the personality of each employee, helps you approach the conflict in different ways and find a workable solution.
  • Emotions hijacking. Sometimes we are guilty of letting our emotions to get us. We all must understand that when emotions are high, our reasoning is low. Managers should ensure ‘time out’ to enable persons involved to calm down before trying discovering what caused the reaction in the first place.
  • Gossip and cliques:Cliques are hard to prevent in the workplace and can have both positive and negative impacts on the workforce. When the gossip and cliques become negative, conflicts are bound to arise in the workforce. It is up to the manager to condemn hurtful gossip and instead focusing on building a positive communication. It is important to note that by ignoring gossip, you are in fact condemning it.
  • Miscommunication or vague language:As a Manager, you need to say what you mean and mean what you say. If you are unclear with directions or communicating, then it is left to the employee to figure out what you meant.  Remember: Not all employees are comfortable asking you to clarifying your point or repeat what you said…

Need to facilitate a conflict?  The following are great tips to follow:

  • First ensure that the right people will be in the room. This requires you to research who needs to be involved and who doesn’t.
  • Greet the parties involved, and discuss how the process will work. Ground rules for the meeting must be established so that both parties understand their duties, that you discuss your role as a neutral facilitator and that the resolution belongs to the parties involved but you are there to help.
  • Your job as the facilitator is to help identify core values, neutralize emotional language, and demonstrate that listening to each other’s point of view is far more productive than listening to rebuttals. This requires you to remain calm, and clear in your communication.
  • Employees should be given time to reflect during the meeting (for example, take a 15 minute break) which allows them to consider solutions. As the facilitator, you should make notes of those ideas and help both parties find a solution they both agree on.
  • If necessary, you can hold private meetings with either side.  By meeting privately each employee is given an opportunity to share sensitive information with you, practice how to ask what they needs, apologize for their role in the conflict, or acknowledge the positive aspects of his working relationship.
  • Monitor follow-through. Your role is to look for signs that things are going well or monitor the progress to ensure it doesn’t become another conflict. By monitoring the progress, you should also give praise when things are being followed to the agreed solution and coach them next steps.


If you require assistance with performance management please check out our Performance Management Kit, we also carry over 400 job descriptions which will assist you in managing your team.

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