During chaotic moments in the office, it’s an inevitable truth that heated disagreements between two or more parties will eventually occur. How do you help others work through these difficult moments? Through conflict resolution, which is defined as a process through which all parties find a peaceful resolution and end their dispute. As an HR manager, it’s part of your role to find effective solutions and deescalate conflicts when they occur. Here are three key strategies that you can employ in the event of an office argument:
1. Genuinely take the time to care about people and the outcome Sometimes, mediating an argument is the last thing you want to do when you’re busy with other tasks, but it’s always important to put these feelings aside and show that you care. In an article from Forbes, Ben Peterson from BambooHR advises that “It’s obvious to everyone if the mediator is authentic in their desire for the best possible outcome. Listen to understand all perspectives and needs without thinking about your response. Look for core problems and true needs. Then, based on your best judgment and genuine desire for a positive outcome, expertly communicate options leading to resolution.” At the end of it all, we all just want to understand one another and be listened to.
2. Improve communication and awareness of each other’s circumstances Working on effective methods of conveying ideas and being empathetic to one another’s emotions is probably the most important part of conflict resolution. It’s important to recognize that people communicate in different ways and respond to different strategies, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to dealing with people. This is why more companies are looking for employees with organizational leadership experience. In terms of HR management skills, Maryville University defines organizational leadership as being able to effectively deal with conflict within the company. The university emphasizes how this done by recognizing the importance of connecting with the human side of organizations in order to “strategically and thoughtfully lead teams”. It’s always important for mediators to familiarize themselves with how different employees communicate, and actively listen to all parties involved, followed by individual support after the conflict to ensure that it is properly resolved.
3. Assess the severity of the conflict before taking any action and document if necessary According to an article on Science Mag, major conflicts require intervention, but sometimes small conflicts are natural. That’s why it’s so it’s important to be able to quickly assess the severity of the situation and figure out when intervention is needed — and when it’s not. If you’re always lecturing your workmates and sorting out their small disputes, they might come to resent this form of micromanagement. Sometimes, coworkers can sort things out between themselves without your aid. However, when an issue is severe in nature, it’s important to quickly develop a game plan before it escalates further. During cases like these, it’s best to document the issue through solid evidence, such as relevant emails. In the heat of the moment, it can sometimes become a he-said, she-said situation, with no proof to back it up. To maintain a clear head and provide a fair resolution, it’s always good to have something to show the relevant authorities if necessary.
Ultimately, it’s always better to address key conflicts as soon as they occur in order to prevent them from becoming larger concerns. For instance, the new law on harassment training, which was previously covered in ‘SB 1343 Harassment Prevention Training Update’, aims to address serious concerns in the workplace before they escalate. It is up to HR managers to be proactive in all forms of conflict resolution.