Most successful organizations encourage and welcome the open discussion of opinions and ideas. Among diverse groups of employees, there are bound to be differences in opinions, something that may seem, initially, to be an obstacle that organizations must overcome. To the contrary, those differences have the potential to elevate organizations to the next level of performance. Conflict is natural, and it can be productive. More important than the mere existence of conflict is how that conflict is handled.
So how can conflict be resolved so that teams or organizations are productive and successful? How can a win-win situation be created? The key is shifting the focus from defeating each other to defeating the challenge in such a way that everyone benefits, and in order for everyone to win. A relationship of trust must be developed.
How to create a win-win situation in business when dealing with conflict
1. If conflict exists, acknowledge it.
Although this step can be difficult, acknowledging the conflict will inspire a sense of relief. When individuals share a commitment to work jointly towards agreed-upon solutions, they will become partners in the process.
2. Find common ground between the parties involved.
View conflict from the perspective of the organization’s goals. What is the vision that unifies individuals despite their differences? If everyone is committed to the organization’s goals and can find common ground, they should be willing to address any issue that threatens their attainment of those goals.
3. Understand all sides of the issue.
Gaining understanding does not mean gaining agreement. One person does not need to agree with a different point of view to understand another’s perspective. The purpose of this step is to gain the information you need to be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, try to comprehend and understand their points of view.
4. Attack the issue, not each other.
When individuals are attacked, rather than attacking the issue at hand, everybody loses. Learning how to confront the issues will create an environment conducive to dialogue and conflict resolution and will result in teams that function at a higher level. The goal is to reach a collaborative solution that allows each party involved in the conflict to achieve individual and team goals without violating any personal values.
5. Develop an action plan.
The final step in this process is to outline what each party is responsible for and how they will meet those obligations. This action plan should be formulated in writing so that each party is able to be accountable for their parts of the plan.
How would this process look if we were to play it out in a team meeting?
Team members involved in the meeting will need to make a list of the current challenges or conflicts that exist within your organization – these should be issues that, if overcome, would improve the overall performance of the organization.
Once that list has been created, you will need to prioritize the conflicts, which are the highest priority, and which are lower on the scale. After you have established your priorities, ask yourselves the following questions:
1. Who are the parties involved? (acknowledge the conflict)
2. Where is the common ground? (gain points of agreement common ground)
3. What is each party’s vviewpoint (seek to understand all sides of the issue)
4. What are the potential solutions that would benefit everyone involved? (attack the challenge, not the people)
5. What must we do to accomplish our goals? (Develop a specific, time-bound action plan.)
Remember, conflict can be beneficial. Seek to embrace conflict in a positive way and you’ll be creating win-win partnerships that benefit everyone.