Workplace conflict is inevitable, even in the most harmonious company cultures. As an HR professional, you play a critical role in managing and resolving conflict through best practices that maintain employee morale and productivity.
Understand the Common Causes of Conflict
Not all workplace conflict stems from the same root causes. To resolve issues, you must first understand why they occurred. Some common triggers include:
- Poor communication between employees or teams. Misunderstandings and unclear expectations breed tension.
- Competition over limited resources like budgets or preferred shifts and schedules. Scarcity seeds conflict.
- Disagreements about policies, procedures, or organizational changes. Lack of buy-in fuels disputes.
- Personality clashes between co-workers. Sometimes differences lead to personal animosity.
- Stress, burnout, and fatigue. These factors cause tempers to flare more easily.
- Perceived favoritism or unequal nextnationalday treatment. Resentments emerge if workers feel they are not valued equally.
- Work style differences that disrupt collaboration. Diverse approaches don’t always mesh smoothly.
- Unclear role definition causing overlaps or gaps. Ambiguity creates confusion about who is responsible for what.
- Poor goal or priority alignment allowing focus to fray. Conflict follows when all efforts are not directed toward shared objectives.
Note troublesome patterns indicated in your human resource information system. If certain departments or managers see frequent conflicts, look into underlying reasons. The experts at VertiSource HR say that the more aware you are of friction sources, the better equipped you will be to resolve issues judiciously.
Establish Trusting Relationships
HR professionals cannot force feuding employees to get along. Your influence comes through trusting relationships where workers know you have their best interests in mind. Take time to build rapport with employees throughout the organization. Get to know their work styles, personalities, and communication preferences. That way, they will be more receptive when you provide coaching and mediation.
Set Clear Expectations for Conduct
Every organization should outline conduct standards that do not tolerate harassment, discrimination, bullying, hostility, threats, violence, or other unacceptable behaviors. Employees must understand these rules and that violations will result in disciplinary measures.
Act Quickly at the First Sign of Trouble
Many minor conflicts escalate because they go unaddressed in the early stages. Employees allow grievances to fester until matters turn toxic. As soon as you observe tension brewing between co-workers, have a chat with them privately.
Know When to Intervene More Directly
For more serious conflicts or those involving managers, HR may need to intervene directly through mediation. Gather input from both sides separately to understand perspectives. Then bring the parties together to find solutions that satisfy, or at least partially satisfy, everyone.
Handle Constructive Criticism Carefully
Performance critiques, project feedback, policy change discussions, and similar scenarios that seem benign can become conflict trigger points if not handled delicately. Emotions like embarrassment, defensiveness, or anger may arise even with constructive orissatimes criticism.
Look for Underlying Systemic Issues
Sometimes, what appears as an interpersonal conflict masks a deeper systemic issue in the organization. For instance, when multiple employees complain about a manager’s “unfair” treatment, the real problem may be poorly defined roles, inconsistent policies, lack of training, or another underlying issue enabling the perceived unfairness.
Rather than siding with certain employees over others, use conflicts as red flags to spot dysfunctional systems and processes you can improve. Institute new training programs, update policies, clarify roles, improve communications, or make other changes to address root causes. Prevent future conflicts by learning from current ones.
Conflict resolution is integral to maintaining a thriving company culture. Keep refining your approach through lessons learned solving disputes. With time and experience, you will become adept at bringing harmony to even the most contentious situations theassistant .