News portal Stuff's Business Day section recently featured a conversation many business leaders have had with their colleagues – discussing conflicts within the workplace. Disputes in the office can be frustrating to deal with because of how quickly they become "he said, she said" arguments in which neither party is in the wrong, according to their own perspective. The arguments are biased, which makes it difficult for leaders to get down to the heart of the matter
The big problem with conflict resolution is that many people do not understand how to manage this process adequately. It is initiated by the parties involved when one of them comes to their manager with a compliant, and as such, it often winds up being something that leaders must deal with, rather than a process in which they take an active role in navigating. Much like any type of business conversation, the person controlling the discussion is the one with the power, so when managers sit back and listen passively to employees' problems, they lose control of the situation.
Realizing that conflicts will happen
The reason many leaders struggle handling conflict resolution is simply because they do not want to deal with it. They hope if they do not address disputes, they will go away by themselves. Thus, they tend to take a passive and non-involved role in these discussions.
This is a poor approach because it can often lead to conflicts intensifying, which can lead to other detrimental outcomes, including involving other people or departments and causing production delays.
Crafting the ideal conflict resolution scenario
Internal conflicts happen at every level of organizations, whether it be a dispute between two interns about how they handle their tasks or an argument between department heads about the allocation of mission-critical resources. For leaders tasked with resolving the conflicts, the key is avoiding assuming a passive role in the process and becoming an active participant who leads the conversation to a successful resolution that works for all parties.
So, how can business leaders do this? The first step should be identifying a script of sorts that can help managers get the information they need to take an active role in conflict resolution discussions. As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If managers are only reacting each parties' story, it can often be hard to get to that truth.
Before conflict resolution discussions happen, leaders must know what type of questions they need to ask to get to the root of the problem. Entering these situations prepared is pivotal, as it can lead to a quicker solution to the problem at hand. It is no secret that internal conflicts can create deadlocks that cause costly delays and productivity problems, so having a script that helps leaders resolve problems quickly and take an active role can go a long way for better conflict resolution.