Unfortunately, workplace conflict is part of life. Conflicts, whether they are interpersonal or stem from work-related issues, will happen at some point in all workplaces. The important thing is how you manage it. If conflict begins, don’t ignore it, hoping it will go away. It will only get worse.
Here are some tips about the best ways to manage workplace conflicts.
1. Get information on what the conflict is.
For example, is warehouse material not being stacked properly, causing safety concerns — or causing other people to have to restack it? Has important data not been transmitted to the right people?
2. Meet with the conflicting parties together, not separately.
Then, call a meeting with both sides. It’s not a good idea to meet with the parties separately. Each party will try to get you on their side, and the information may be stated with that goal.
In addition, each conflicting person may feel you are on the other’s side if you meet privately, no matter how fair you’re being.
3. Ask each side what the conflict is and what they would like to see occur.
Ask each side for a brief summary of the conflict and don’t take sides.
Here’s an example. Side A says: “Joe is responsible for stacking the boxes safely, but the boxes constantly fall over. We have to restack them all the time. He needs to stack them carefully enough so we don’t have to do his job and that it’s safe.”
Side B says: “I stack them fine. The forklift driver knocks them over when he drives by, that’s why they fall over. I can’t run over and restack all the time. The forklift driver needs to be more careful.”
4. Ask each side to commit to a plan of action to resolve the conflict.
In the example above, it could be that Side A will report to a supervisor if the boxes have fallen, but not restack them. Side B will work with the supervisor to see that the boxes are stacked carefully.
5. Resolve any issues that have to be discussed on the managerial level.
In the example given, the forklift drivers and their supervisors need to be talked to as well as Side A and Side B, to ensure that forklift driving is not causing the problem. In addition, of course, if one of the employees doesn’t carry through on the plan, further action might be warranted.
Resolving conflict is important in all workplaces. These steps above will help you manage conflict effectively.