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6 conflict resolution techniques and strategies for the workplace

By Ben Madden | 10 August 2021


No matter what field of work you’re in, it’s more than likely that professional or personal disputes will periodically arise – which is why it’s important to have a range of conflict resolution techniques at your disposal. 

Workplace stress, which is often associated with conflict, is estimated to cost the Australian economy nearly $15 billion a year, so it can have disastrous consequences for your business’ bottom line. As a manager/leader, conflict resolution is a key part of your role. While it may be unpleasant, it is one of the most important things you’ll do day-to-day.

Learning how to effectively resolve a workplace conflict is one of the best skills anyone can possess, as it means your workplace will continue to be productive, happy and united – which is a recipe for success!

Conflict is often inevitable, despite people’s best attempts, so to help you navigate the muddy waters of conflict, we’ve put together a range of methods for solving conflict in a way that suits everyone involved. 

How to manage conflict in the workplace 

1. Listen before you speak.

While it can be tempting to immediately dive into solving a conflict in the workplace, that can be counterproductive. Ensuring that you’re communicating with everyone in the same manner and actively listening to everyone so you have all the information on a conflict means you can start working out the best way to solve it.

Trying to come up with a solution before truly understanding what the root of the problem is can lead to further problems down the track. It’s also useful to have a sounding board of your own (preferably people that are removed from the conflict) so you can further ensure that you’re remaining impartial and problem solving using the best methods possible. 

2. Ensure everyone has a voice.

colleagues talking to each other

During conflict, people who are naturally more confident and extroverted will be more vocal about their concerns, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in the right. It’s important to create a situation where everyone feels comfortable sharing – and this can involve a combination of group and individual meetings. 

Much like any situation, it’s important to tailor your approach to what will work best for your employees, and attempt conflict resolution from there. There are four main methods of communication in the workplace – verbal, body, phone and written. 

Each person will have a preferred method of expressing their concerns, whether it be through email, a phone conversation or face-to-face, so give people the option to communicate in a way that makes them comfortable, rather than attempting a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

3. Find common ground.

In many conflicts, workers are just trying to do what they believe is best for the business, so a great conflict resolution method is to hold a meeting where people can discuss their concerns. It’s likely that people involved in the conflict will be able to reach a consensus on the best way to tackle an issue or problem, which can then provide a way forward.

It’s important to have faith in your employees that they can resolve a conflict in a professional manner, rather than resorting to personal attacks. Doing so will improve their belief in your leadership as it shows you believe in both their ability as employees and their character as people.

4. Don’t put a solution off. 

employees having a chat

While it can be tempting to delay solving a conflict, this will only cause the problem to worsen. Having your employees or colleagues resenting each other (and potentially yourself) can lead to employee morale and performance to drop off, which can spell disaster for the workplace. 

While it’s important to not rush towards a solution, taking too long can be equally damaging, and it’s hard to reverse the effects of a divide between employees. Be confident, calm and controlled when attempting conflict resolution, and you’ll find yourself in good stead. 

5. Don’t choose sides.

Employees want to feel heard and respected, and it’s important to remain impartial. While you might prefer one person involved over another, or they might appear more persuasive, it’s important to remain grounded and neutral so you can achieve an optimal result. 

Conflict resolution is a great time to set an example as a workplace leader and being swayed one way or another will erode the confidence your employees have in you. A united team is one that will achieve success, so ensure all your employees have faith that if they approach you about a potential source of conflict, you can solve it in a way that looks at the actual issue, not just the people involved.

6. Consider further study. 

Feel like you’d benefit from studying different leadership and management techniques? Thankfully there are a range of different qualifications that can allow you to further hone and improve your management style. 95% of those with training reported it helped them find methods of resolving conflict in a positive way, so it can really benefit your leadership capabilities.

For example, the BSB40520 – Certificate IV in Leadership and Management can give you the confidence you need to make an impact in your field of choice, while also teaching you skills that you can immediately apply in the workplace. It’s a great way to diversify your skillset, while learning practical skills that can immediately improve the success of your team.

Improve your conflict resolution skills with an online course

Upskilled’s range of nationally recognised qualifications prepare you for the workplace, including providing problem solving and conflict resolution skills. If you’re looking to learn more, visit the Upskilled website here, or get in touch with our education consultants on 1300 009 924 to learn more about the options available when you study with Upskilled!
 
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