How to Resolve Employee Conflict

In the workplace, most employees work out minor employee conflict on their own without ever resorting to management intervention. However, different personalities in the same space for long periods of time will inevitably need mediating, and managers can implement several of the following tips and strategies for the most satisfactory resolutions.

For minor employee conflicts, treat the participants in a respectful manner, and give them the opportunity to come up with their own solutions. Acting as a mediator between reasonable adults, while offering tips and suggestions, is a good role for a manager in a conflict. However, there are times where both sides are unreasonable, unwilling to compromise or are just too emotionally involved to work it out this way, and further employee conflict resolution is needed.

When conflict in the workplace escalates, it is important for a manager to step up as the authority figure and instill some sense of reason. Without employee conflict resolution, a problem can grow and poison an otherwise functioning office. Here are five tips that managers can use to resolve employee conflict.

  1. Never let rule breaking occur. No matter what the conflict, employees who ignore company rules should be reprimanded according to company policy.
  2. Refer to company policy. When there are clear guidelines for conflict and resolution, employees know you are not being arbitrary. They can see the guidelines themselves and expect the outcome in those situations.
  3. Be the example. Keeping your cool and acting in a reasonable and calm manner will have an effect on employees. Because a manager often sets the tone and atmosphere of an office, create the mood you ultimately want to prevail.
  4. Give incentives. Few things motivate employees more than incentives. Whether it is non-monetary or a cash bonus, employees will likely come together when their common interests exceed the conflict.
  5. Ultimately, there must be an end to the employee conflict. Whether that means clearing the air or threatening dismissal or legal action, all parties must be aware that they've reached the point where there must be a resolution or their jobs are in jeopardy because work is suffering.
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When conflict management styles clash, mixed messages are sent, and the situation may not be resolved in the most effective and timely manner. Tensions can be heightened, not resolved, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Workplace conflict is commonplace, but managers who can incorporate certain types of conflict management strategies that work will soon be able to achieve their goals and minimize disruptions.

You can follow several conflict resolution tips to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to the problem when you are witnessing conflict at work, whether as upper management or as a co-worker.

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