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How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts Effectively?

By Sthitaprajnya Panigrahi

Workplace conflicts happen everywhere and tackling them is the hardest part the manager has to do. Conflicts are part and parcel of every organization and a recent study indicates that about 85% of employees experience conflict. Sometimes conflict is considered healthy as it promotes organizational growth encouraging innovation, diversity of thought, and better decision making among the employees. But when the conflict becomes personal and emotional, resulting in loss of respect between employees, it is considered as unhealthy conflict as it affects the morale of the organization. The main reasons which trigger the workplace conflict in the first place are lack of proper communication between employees and getting influenced by emotions. While miscommunication often leads to misunderstanding and disagreement, taking decisions being overwhelmed by emotions often creates disputes among employees. By the time a conflict comes into notice of HR, it is often too late, resulting in the quitting of a valuable employee. Workplace conflicts not only result in loss of time but also lead to productivity loss which is risky for the company.

So, to eliminate conflict by arriving at a mutually beneficial outcome, here are some resolution practices for HR to incorporate:

  1. Sit with the parties in an open mind and hear out their individual versions of the story. Ask them about their opinions to resolve the situation and why they feel that way. Sympathize with each of them and try to make them believe that you understand their situation.
  2. Preach to them what you think could be an ideal solution to the problem. Make them feel as an asset of the company and why the resolution of the conflict will be better for them as well as the organization.
  3. Without any assumptions or predetermined ideas, ask them in detailed questions to get the whole idea. As HR personnel, you should remain neutral and try to reach the in-depth of the situation.
  4. Work towards the solution together as a team. Try to mark the common areas where they are agreeing and find out the areas they are disagreeing upon. Try to figure out a common goal that might encourage them to work upon it as a team.
  5. Identify the barriers that might come across while resolving the issue and take necessary actions to eradicate them. Ask the parties; what they think can be an ideal measure to overcome these hurdles.
  6. Help the teams to produce their solutions while guiding them towards a better perspective. A successful resolution comes up whenever the parties decide their solution understanding the predicament of the situation.
  7. To find a better outcome of the situation, try to fit into the shoes of the employees. As a respectful and genuine individual keep in mind not to complicate the situation any further, as the sole purpose of the meeting to find the resolutions of the conflict.
  8. Always go for follow up post meetings after the conflict resolution to check in with both the parties about their progress. Try to address them in a group or individually to see if any additional support is required.

Employees are resources for the company and its better to resolve a few issues by talking and counseling them. Sometimes employees threatening to quit over a few problems can be seen as a financial loss for the company as recruiting and training of the employees are expensive. All conflicts can be resolved by being a little compassionate, forgiving, understanding and an active listener. However, if everything else fails, take the right action to resolve the conflict.

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