Article
18 Oct 2021

How to Prepare Managers for Employee Conflict Management

Three people engaging in a frustrating discussion.

Running a business rides on everyone getting along. That could be employers and managers, the company and suppliers, salespeople and customers, and much more. With the numerous moving parts involved, however, it’s natural for disputes and conflicts to come up.

As a business owner, you’ll find that conflict resolution will come up much more than you first thought it would. You might believe that conflicts and disputes are the same thing. That’s a common mistake, as most people think that the words are interchangeable.

That isn’t the case. While you might be able to use your conflict resolution skills to help with both situations, they’re quite separate. The same could be the same for many other problems that may seem similar at first.

That means that you’ll not only have to have high-quality problem solving skills but be able to resolve conflict quite well. There’s much more involved in that than you’d think. You’ll need to make sure you develop a solution that’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Effective employee conflict management will play a significant role in this. There’s a lot more involved in resolving workplace conflict than you’d think, however. You’ll need multiple skills, such as assertiveness and active listening, among others.

That’s alongside having a conflict resolution process and other ways to minimize or avoid conflict situations. To do so, it’s worth knowing what’s what with employee conflict management. In doing so, you can better prepare your managers for it when situations arise.

Conflicts In The Workplace

Difference Between A Conflict & A Dispute

Before you’re able to handle conflict, you’ll need to know if that’s what it is or whether it’s a dispute. As similar as these might seem, there’s a much larger difference between them than you’d think. While this might seem minor outside of work, it matters a lot in the business world.

It’s worth defining what these are to highlight the difference between them.

  • Conflict: A conflict is when two or more parties are in opposition or have friction in their relationship. That can be based on either perceived or actual differences or incompatibilities. In many cases, these can be seen as a clash of interests or personality differences.
  • Dispute: A dispute, on the other hand, can best be summed up as a disagreement over legal rights, responsibilities, or duties. That can often revolve around compensation, although it doesn’t strictly relate to finance. Alongside this, a dispute can pop up in the case of a breach of contract, such as when deliverables arrive late. 

As you might see, there can be multiple differences between conflicts and disputes. You could say that disputes are much more serious than conflict, although it’s vital to deal with both. In some cases, one can turn into another.

That’s why you’ll need to handle conflict as it comes up. To do so, you’ll need to know the best solution to tackle a situation.

3 Types Of Conflict Styles

Before you can resolve conflict in the workplace, you’ll need to know what the cause of it is. Identifying the situation and determining how to handle it could be more complicated than you’d think. That’s because there are multiple types of conflict that you can come across.

Some are much more common than others. The most notable of these are:

  • Task-Based Conflicts: When people work together in a team, there’s always a chance that task-based disputes will come up. These center around everyone pulling their fair share on a project. Typically, these will also revolve around someone not being able to complete or even start their job until someone else does theirs.
  • Leadership Conflicts: While many interpersonal conflicts are between team members, some will be between employees and management. These can often focus on a person’s leadership style. The easiest way to avoid this is for managers to adjust their style to better suit those working under them.
  • Personality-Based Conflicts: Everyone is different, and that includes their personalities. Sometimes, you’re not going to like someone based on their personality. That happens to quite a few people. Often, that can affect how you work. The best solution to overcome this is to be as empathetic as you can while minimizing any non-essential interactions with them.

There are multiple approaches to conflict resolution in the workplace. Perhaps the most notable is effective communication. Should something arise, you’ll likely need to have meetings with those involved to address the situation.

In doing so, you’ll need to aim for a win-win scenario for everyone involved, if that’s possible.

When Is It The Time For A Conflict Management Meeting?

When the situation arises, you’ll find that you’ll need to have a conflict management meeting. These will typically need to be held within 24 hours of the workplace conflict coming up. You’ll want to address things as early as possible, after all.

Meetings like these assists with managing the conflict and will help you resolve it amicably. You might be sure what’s involved in them, however. There are a few simple steps that you’ll need to take during the meet. These are:

  • Setting Ground Rules: You’ll need to determine exactly how the conflict management meeting will take place. In doing so, you’ll need to make sure everyone listens to employee accounts without bias while also giving them consideration. There should also be ground rules, such as no interrupting or shouting, among others.
  • Getting Testimony: You should let everyone involved in the situation give their version of the conflict. When they’re speaking, it’s recommended that you take notes. You’ll need to take advantage of your active listening skills here. Ask questions and address any inconsistencies in a person’s story. You’ll need to do so to determine who is telling the truth in the situation. That will typically mean using your problem solving skills.
  • Common Ground: Before you can resolve conflict, you’ll need to find common ground. You could each agree that you want a positive working environment. From there, you could determine specific steps to work toward that.
  • Group Work: From there, you should work as a team to address the root cause of the conflict, alongside ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. You should brainstorm solutions when doing so. Once you do, you can determine what the best solution forward will be and take things from there.

With all of this completed, you can start implementing your conflict resolutions strategies.

How Can Conflict Be Resolved - 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies

Knowing how to handle conflict in your company will be mandatory. That could be easier said than done, however. There are multiple ways of going about it. While you’ll need to adapt conflict resolutions strategies for your particular needs, you can still follow a few particular strategies.

The most notable of these are:

  1. Define Acceptable Behavior: The easiest, and often most effective, way of resolving conflict is by defining what’s acceptable in your workplace. When employees know the rules, they’ll be less likely to break them. While it’ll be your responsibility to set the tone for this, you could also let the team help to define what is and isn’t appropriate.
  2. Think Opportunistically: Most conflict situations will need some form of consequence for at least one party involved. That doesn’t mean that it always has to be a negative one. Though there may be plenty of these situations, you could also think more positively in some cases. You could see this as an opportunity for someone to learn and grow. As a manager, you can teach an employee to do better, which could be a win-win for everyone involved.
  3. Provide Constructive Criticism: Similar to thinking opportunistically, you should also provide constructive criticism when conflict arises. It isn’t worth criticizing for the sake of doing so, as this will demoralize employees and may cause further conflict. Taking a different approach and being constructive is a much better-recommended option.
  4. Be Decisive: When it comes to conflict resolution, you’ll want to do it right. That means putting in the time to find out all of the relevant information. Once you’ve done so, however, it’s time to be decisive. You’ll need to act and make a decision, alongside sticking with this in the future.
  5. Avoid Jumping To Conclusions: It’s easy to jump to conclusions when a workplace conflict arises. There could be much more involved in a situation than you’d first assume, however. You’ll need to avoid jumping to conclusions. Finding out the relevant information before coming to a conclusion is one of the top conflict resolution strategies you can take advantage of.

You’ll need to spend a significant amount of time and effort on handling conflict in the workplace. Once you do, however, it’ll be well worth it. You office will be back to working smoothly and employees will be back to working well together.

Helpful Tips For Preparing & Following Up On Conflict Resolution

While you might have excellent problem solving skills, you might feel that your conflict resolution skills mightn’t be up to par. That could mean getting some conflict resolution training to help with the process.

Outside of this, you might want a few other tips and tricks. Workplace conflicts can be difficult to navigate, after all. There are more than a few that you might want to take advantage of.

That’s especially true when it comes to preparing for and following up on conflict resolution. Some of the most notable of these are:

  • Take Action Immediately: If conflicts are left to stir, then employees will start to feel as though you’re not taking the issue seriously. Coupled with that could be employee frustration with having to put up with the tension that conflicts breed. That means taking action as quickly as possible. That’ll prevent more damage to employee productivity and morale.
  • Ask For Proposed Solutions: When employees feel as though they can’t work together, they’ll often have ideas for how to overcome it. It’s worth asking for what these potential solutions may be. While you mightn’t necessarily go with these, it’ll make your employees feel heard, at a minimum.
  • Let Them Talk It Out: Though many workplace conflicts are complex and take a while to address, some don’t. In certain cases, employees can talk things out if given the space and ability to do so. It could be worth letting them speak with each other in a supervised environment as part of your conflict resolution process.

Handling conflict in the workplace is never easy. It can often cause much more stress and cause more disputes than you’d want. Being able to deal with it quickly and easily will be mandatory.

Once you do, you should find that your employees will get through their workday much more productively and happily. Taking advantage of each of the above tips and tricks is highly recommended.

When you’re doing so, you’ll need to combine them with each of the conflict management strategies and processes that you implement. There might be a period of adjustment with many of these.

Your company will grow and evolve over time, after all. It’s only natural that many of your policies and processes do so too.

Conclusion

Resolving conflict in the workplace can often be much more difficult than you’d think. That’s only if you don’t take advantage of proper conflict resolution strategies, among multiple other things. If your company can’t handle conflict, then it might not be as successful as you’ll want it to be.

By having a conflict resolution process in place, you can easily address situations as they come up. In many cases, these could be relatively small. You’ll want to prevent them from getting bigger, however. If they do, it could have a significant impact on your company.

Part of this involves having the right tools and software to report and manage conflict in your business. Employees will need to feel safe and secure in the knowledge that something is being done with their complaints. Software assists you in accurately reporting and managing all of this.

In doing so, you’ll need to be communicative with everyone involved. Making full use of your active listening and problem solving will be more than recommended, alongside being patient throughout the process.

Ready for the next step?

Sign up for a quick 30 minutes demo and see what flair can do to automate your HR department and help you focus 100% on growing your employees the right way.

Book a Demo

Subscribe

Hello, we are flair. Our goal is to translate the positive effects of revolutionizing how companies engage with their clients & their team.

  • Terms
  • Imprint
  • Cookies