Posted on October 8, 2014

Occasional conflicts are an inevitable part of working with people. While effectively resolved conflicts can strengthen a team, unsettled issues can become cancerous and poison your corporate culture and employee engagement. Here are four tips for making the most of any conflict mediation you may have to deal with.

1. Realize the problem won’t just go away

Ignoring workplace conflicts won’t make them go away: it will turn them into a ticking time bomb. While the problem may seem to subside on its own, without mediation, it will reemerge and explode the next time that stress or conflict arises. Healthy relationships, personal and professional, are built on trust and communication, and without a definite resolution, neither of those exist.

2. Understand it’s a group problem

Because a conflict involves more than one person, it needs to be dealt with as a group. Sitting down with the antagonists together will streamline the mediation process and eliminate any he-said-she-said misunderstandings. Additionally, any workplace conflict affects more than just the two people having the dispute. Bystanders often get dragged into the mix, forced into choosing one side or the other; with your whole team invested in the argument, efficiency and employee engagement will suffer a heavy blow.

3. Know the manager’s role

The manager has a vitally important role to play in the conflict mediation process: facilitating dialogue. Let your employees know that you believe they can resolve the conflict effectively (like adults) and their compromise and understanding is important to you. Furthermore, recognize that you need to own some of the responsibility for the issue. Ask if there’s something your workplace could have done to prevent this dispute and what you can do to prevent future problems.

4. Discuss real changes

Gather all participants in the dispute to sit down and calmly discuss what each person needs to work effectively again. Talk about real actions that can be taken to improve the workplace and fix the problems, rather than just dishing out criticism. When everyone’s opinion is heard and a plan is set in place, the result is more likely to be an efficient and encouraging workplace.

Conflict mediation is a very real part of being a manager. It’s the manager’s job to keep the workplace running smoothly and to take care of his team. By effectively dealing with conflicts, you and your employees can once again fulfill your roles driving company success.

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_Source: Susan Heathfield