Workplace Conflict Management

20 February 2024 | Human Resources

Effective strategies for conflict management in your business

“You can’t please all of the people, all of the time.” (Source unknown)

“Nobody is for everybody.” (Source also unknown)

Yes, they are cliches, but cliches exist because they are typically based on a universal truth. And when it comes to running a business, it’s certainly true that – sooner or later – there will be conflict. 

And if you can’t avoid conflict, the next best thing is to be prepared to manage it effectively, reducing the adverse impact it could have on your business.

The truth is that conflict is a natural part of workplace dynamics. How you or your people respond can profoundly influence a company’s culture, employee satisfaction, and overall productivity. Recognising and addressing conflict promptly can prevent escalations that lead to bigger problems.

Read on as we explore effective strategies for workplace conflict management in your business, ensuring minor disagreements don’t turn into major grievances.

Don’t be an Ostrich: The Early Bird Approach to Workplace Conflict Management

Now that we have accepted conflict is normal and will happen at some point, let’s examine why burying your head in the sands isn’t a recommended strategy.

Effective people management is reliant on honest and open communication, setting clear boundaries around what is and is not acceptable in your workplace. 

Addressing minor disagreements at their inception prevents them from becoming entrenched, festering like an open wound, leading to resentment and bad feelings. In essence, it’s intrinsic to promoting a healthy work environment. 

An early and proactive response not only resolves issues more quickly but also demonstrates your commitment to a positive workplace culture.

Embrace Informal Resolution Methods

Please remember – it’s okay to try to resolve conflicts informally. You should have grievance policies and procedures in place – but they should be seen as the last resort when other options fail.

By contrast, informal approaches can be highly beneficial with direct communication between the involved parties, meaning your team members learn to understand the issues and work towards a resolution. Helping conflicting employees to see each other’s perspectives and intent or clarifying crossed wires and misunderstandings through facilitated discussions or temporary compromises can often prevent minor conflicts from escalating further, preserving workplace relationships and team harmony. 

In essence – if a problem can be “nipped in the bud”, it should be.

Equip Managers with Essential Skills

As an employer, you have a duty of care to everyone in the business. Managers and team leaders often hold senior positions due to their technical excellence within the workplace. Sadly, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are naturally great people managers. 

Providing your senior colleagues with management training allows them to develop the skills needed to bring their teams along with them. As the saying goes – more carrot, less stick. 

If managers aren’t properly trained for their role, they could feel unable to assert their authority if faced with challenging situations or team members. By equipping your managers with skills in assertiveness and effective communication, you empower them to address conflicts constructively before they escalate, fostering an environment of openness and mutual respect. 

Mediation – The Neutral Ground

In more complex disputes, mediation serves as a valuable tool. Acting as a neutral third party, mediators can facilitate discussions between the individuals involved, helping reach mutually agreeable solutions. This approach is particularly beneficial in resolving entrenched conflicts, offering a path to reconciliation without taking sides.

Customise Solutions to Fit Your Business

Tailoring conflict resolution strategies to an organisation’s specific needs is essential. Factors such as size, culture, and the nature of the conflict will naturally guide the approach. For example, in larger organisations, solutions might include reassigning individuals to different shifts or departments or establishing formal mediation processes. 

Prevention is Better than Cure

We know – another cliche!

Preventative actions that enable people in your business to resolve issues without raising a grievance yield better outcomes all around. Interpersonal relationships can be preserved, making it easier for all involved to work together in the long term. 

By contrast, grievances inevitably create lasting bad feelings, can result in you losing valued staff members and may even result in a grievance being raised against the business if aggrieved parties aren’t happy with the outcome of a grievance against an individual. 

Workplace Conflict Management Support from Dazzle

If conflict is creating bad feelings in your business, working with the HR team at Dazzle Business Support can be a huge benefit. Our neutral and objective position as an “outsider” often enables us to achieve positive outcomes that are harder to achieve if you decide to deal with matters yourself. 

We also ensure that training needs and opportunities are identified during our involvement – making you better prepared for the future. 

Typically, if we are engaged to support a client with conflict resolution, we start by mediating the situation, moving on to support you through the full grievance process if necessary. 

Working with Dazzle Business Support

To find out more about how Dazzle Business Support’s Fractional HR services can help you with workplace conflict management in your business, get in touch today

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