The Importance of an Effective Conflict Resolution Process
Originally published on April 8, 2021
Updated on October 31st, 2023
Employee relations and general workplace conflict are some of the most complex issues to successfully navigate as an employer. And while dealing with conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing, understanding how to do so in a healthy, productive way is important for maintaining a positive work culture in your organization. Being proactive and providing ample resources and training will help keep workplace conflict in check.
Your human resources department should balance being proactive, prompt and equitable when dealing with employee conflict. The more you can take a “managing” mindset versus an “eliminating” one, the better.
Minimize conflict with an established and robust conflict resolution process.
When employees know they’re heard and recognized, they’re more likely to feel respected and empowered when dealing with conflict. Your company culture should be designed to address concerns proactively and constructively while also promoting unity.
This is done in part by having an effective conflict resolution process. When creating yours, take the following into account:
- The stage of the conflict and potential starting point: Create guidelines that show how to recognize conflict.
- The nature of the conflict: Identify different types of conflict so employees can easily recognize them.
- Communications surrounding the conflict: If an employee reports a grievance or communicates that they are experiencing conflict, acknowledge it and take action.
Encouraging employees through self-empowerment is key. Provide easy-to-follow resources and training, and put review processes in place that help mitigate emotionally-driven conflict. These can include peer review processes, manager/employee procedures for talking about potential workplace issues, and more.
Your conflict resolution policy should include specific procedures for filing a grievance, such as how it will be handled and what the employee can expect. You can also develop a framework for discussion points surrounding the conflict, which should include:
- Ways to promote open, clear-minded discussions
- Defining the conflict resolution process
- Key steps in the conflict resolution process
- Ways/forums to talk about the conflict (and how to process it)
- Follow-up steps and a plan of action
- Brainstorm sessions for resolving conflict
Develop detailed training materials that are easily accessible.
Establishing conflict resolution processes is one thing; having employees equipped to carry them out is another. Adequate training materials and exercises are an important part of your conflict resolution policy. Not only do they reduce the chances employees might leave due to conflict (and the resulting costs to replace them), it could mean avoiding expensive mitigation processes with outside resources (legal or otherwise).
Consider developing training materials that are fact driven and include useful information. Some examples of effective materials and methods include:
- Teaching people how to work together
- Recognizing what employees bring to the table
- Guiding employees in taking an introspective approach to working with others
- Effectively communicating conflicts and grievances in a productive way
Rely on your human resources team.
Losing employees due to conflict is both risky and costly. It costs money to hire and train new employees. Managers within the organization make their hiring choices for a reason, so it’s important to make sure everyone is heard when conflicts arise. Providing the right level of support and focus for conflict resolution is a critical function of the HR team. Step in, take action and treat the situation equitably and with transparency.
Don’t wait until conflict becomes a crisis. Put the proper processes and training in place now to stop unhealthy conflict before it starts. A thorough conflict resolution process promotes an inclusive and productive company culture. Our HR consultants can help you develop your process (or review your existing one) to ensure its effectiveness for your organization.
All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a James Moore professional. James Moore will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.
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