Dealing with workplace conflict is one of the most challenging aspects of being an office manager. The best way to manage any type of dispute between employees or entire departments is to bring a level-headed and practical approach to addressing and ultimately solving the issue.
The thing to keep in mind is that “solving” the issue may not always encompass a complete and total dismissal of grievances. If anything, many workplace conflicts are managed more readily than becoming entirely solved. Sure, it happens from time to time but when you have a group of individuals in one place who do not get along, even the smallest issues can become huge points of contention.
We here at One Eighty LLC know how to manage conflicts in the workplace and offer these five simplified tips for taking on complex challenges that can arise from conflict.
1. Avoid Conflict from The Start
Easier said than done, sure. But a good manager can take steps to prevent a conflict from taking place up front by identifying possible disputes and volatility between employees and intervening where and whenever possible. This can be helpful for preventing a conflict from happening and minimizing the impact of a conflict if and when it does occur down the line.
2. Setting Boundaries
Creating a culture of compliance in the workplace is paramount. That means setting boundaries as to how you expect all employees to comport themselves when they are on company time. Outlining the standards for behavior that are expected in the workplace can go a long way towards keeping any major conflicts from arising.
3. Mediation Goals
So, let’s consider if and when a conflict does occur. You will need to step in as a mediator to come to a successful solution for quelling the problem between the parties. The key here is to remain neutral at all times or you could lose the trust of one or more individuals involved in the conflict.
By all means you can and should have an opinion as to who may be in the right and in the wrong, but above all, you need to establish goals as to how you will find a resolution in this matter.
4. Speak to All the Parties
Here is where you get everyone’s side of the story. Expect them to vary greatly from one another. The thing to remember here is that you want to conduct discussions and interviews with each party in the conflict on a private basis. This provides every individual the opportunity to explain his or her position freely.
5. Group Conversation
After you get everyone’s take on the conflict, bring them all together to hash it all out. Your job here is to lead the group in a critical and constructive manner to get everyone to talk about how to resolve the problem. As a mediator you are guiding the conversation at all times, keep everyone on point, discourage negative comments and name-calling, stress that you want this discussion to remain civil. You can explain your take on the conflict and review everyone’s point of view before you allow the others to speak and get everything on the table.