By Mel Kleiman, President, Humetrics
According to recent reports, managers spend over 35% of their time dealing with workplace conflict. So, once it’s begun, how do you stop the wars between workers? Here’s a suggested method:
- Bring the conflicting parties together. Never meet with them separately.
- Let each person tell his or her side of the story without interruption. Problems need to be aired before they can be resolved.
- Identify what is really at the heart of the disagreement. Not the emotional story, but the real story.
- Even in conflict, there is the seed of compromise. Find common ground between the parties. (This may take a lot of time, talk and patience.)
- Get each party to identify actions the other could take to resolve the conflict. Require them to achieve the desired outcome in a positive manner. Draft an agreement for the parties to sign.
- Remember that quick answers usually don’t work. People think they have legitimate reasons to feel the way they do, and off-the-cuff answers won’t work.
- Set expectations. Tell the parties that you expect them to work this out, but, if this disruption continues, disciplinary action will be taken against both sides.
- Set a date for a follow-up meeting to monitor progress on the agreement.
And finally, two more important things:
- Workplace conflicts almost never resolve themselves, they only get worse.
- Some conflicts can never be resolved. The best you can do is separate the parties within the organization… or from the organization.