By Rochelle Burnley, Friends of Ebonie External Communication Coordinator
There isn’t anything more frustrating than disagreeing with a colleague. Tensions rise, words are exchanged and an uncomfortable working atmosphere has been set and now everyone has to live in it. Or do they?
Conflict is one of the many things that we have to face in the workplace. Whether you are an employee or the employer, this is an area that is uncomfortable for everyone. Should I quit instead of dealing with it? Is this worth fixing? Where do I begin? The good news is there is a strategy for conflict resolution; however, you have to be willing to apply it. Hello!
The University of Notre Dame offers a six-step approach to conflict resolution that are easy, impactful, and can be used inside or outside of the workplace. Here’s my take on the six steps from the perspective of the manager. I figure hey, we’re all at the manager or junior manager level so these should help us out before we go crazy with aggravated team members. If the you (the manager) happen to be involved in the conflict, well then, a neutral party should be called in.
Listen, Then Speak Out
Hear each side of the story. As a neutral party in the matter, you will have an unbiased opinion about the situation and can offer an objective point of view. By first listening to the issues from both parties, you can grasp a better understanding of the conflict and can figure out the best way to approach it. Once that has been determined, you can now share with those involved in the conflict which steps will be taken and what roles they will play.
Gather The Group
Place everyone into the same room. Once there, have each party, uninterrupted, explain their point of view on the matter. After each party has done so, try offering different solutions. Some solutions may not prove to be successful, but with everyone there, you’re one step closer to a resolution than before. Make it known that an amends has to be made in order to keep a peaceful work environment for everyone. The goal here is to get everyone on one accord.
Don’t take sides. Listen to each party and make an effort to not display any opinion favoring one person over another. Remember, you are the neutral party. Even if you feel partial towards one party, try looking at the situation from all sides and come to a reasonable solution.
Do Not Postpone Conflict Resolution
Don’t wait! Resolve any conflict happening immediately. Postponing conflict resolution can lead to tension rising even more and can create an unsettling work environment. Employee performance can also be affected by conflict. Make sure you don’t address the situation too fast before gathering all of the information. Your decision has the ability to affect staff performance and morale.
Encourage and Inspire. This is your opportunity to remind everyone of all of the accomplishments that required teamwork. This can have the most impact on your team as it causes them to reflect on the importance of working with one another. Motivate them to want to place the issues behind them and to continue to strive for excellence. The end goal must remain in sight.
Give an example. Recognize an employee that has the desirable traits of a team player and use them as a model to encourage the other parties to get back on track. Make sure you choose an employee who is well respected by everyone. Model behavior is the key with this concept.
Conflict happens every day in the workplace, but yesterday’s issues should not be brought into today. Resolution can be effective when used properly. Make sure that when using any method to resolve issues, as the leader, you are to be open and objective. You want to ensure that you are leading by example. This will determine whether or not your approach will be successful, but most importantly, how to make sure your employees are successful as well.