Hiring Wisdom: Resolving Workplace Conflicts

According to recent reports, managers spend over 35 percent of their time dealing with workplace conflict. So, once it’s begun, how do you stop the wars between workers? Here’s a suggest method:

  1. Bring the conflicting parties together. Never meet with them separately.
  2. Let each person tell his or her side of the story without interruption. Problems need to be aired before they can be resolved.
  3. Identify what is really at the heart of the disagreement. Not the emotional story, but the real story.
  4. Even in conflict, there is the seed of compromise. Find common ground between the parties. (This may take a lot of time, talk, and patience.)
  5. Get each party to identify actions the other could take to resolve the conflict. Require them to achieve the desired outcome in a positive manner. Draft an agreement for the parties to sign.
  6. Remember that quick answers usually don’t work. People think they have legitimate reasons to feel the way they do and off-the-cuff answers won’t work.
  7. Set expectations. Tell the parties that you expect them to work this out, but, if this disruption continues, disciplinary action will be taken against both sides.
  8. Set a date for a follow-up meeting to monitor progress on the agreement.

And finally, two more important things:

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  1. Workplace conflicts almost never resolve themselves, they only get worse.
  2. Some conflicts can never be resolved. The best you can do is separate the parties within the organization… or from the organization.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

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