What Is Conflict Resolution in the Workplace?

Conflict resolution is a process that helps two or more parties solve a problem. Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, so conflict resolution gives workforce members the guidance and strategies necessary to handle challenges productively.

Why Is Conflict Resolution Important in the Workplace?

Because 85 percent of team members experience conflict in the workplace, understanding and employing an effective conflict-resolution process is crucial.

Teams that can resolve differences in an effective manner experience many benefits:

Higher retention: As many as 25 percent of workforce members call in sick to avoid workplace issues. In addition, one in five individuals has left their employer due to conflict. When team members are knowledgeable about conflict-resolution strategies, this can help them feel more confident tackling challenges head on and showing up each day.

Increased productivity: Conflict resolution allows team members to understand differences in opinion and perspective. This mutual understanding can improve motivation and team performance.

How Do You Resolve Conflict?

conflict resolution

Leaders can help team members spearhead workplace issues using the five stages of conflict resolution.

1. Define the conflict: Explore the situation with team members and help them identify the root cause of the conflict. Ask questions to help guide the conversation and give all parties the chance to speak.

2. Watch for underlying issues: Listen carefully and be on guard for elevated emotions or attitudes that may cloud the discussion. If these come up, personal issues may need to be addressed so team members can productively begin to resolve the actual problem.

3. Identify needs: Allow each party to express their concerns and needs. What do they want out of the resolution? Acknowledging each person’s need is crucial in instilling empathy so all parties can reach a mutually beneficial solution. The key is to approach conflict in a way that allows individuals the opportunity to learn and grow.

4. Brainstorm possible solutions and goals: Help team members brainstorm possible solutions. You can encourage them to contribute ideas to expand on specific options and/or combine ideas. Before moving forward from this phase, ensure all parties have expressed their thoughts and feelings. No ideas should be left unaddressed.

5. Agree on a solution and incorporate it: Vote on a solution and have all team members agree to incorporate it. They should work together to map out an implementation plan. Be sure to check in periodically with your team members to see how they are progressing on the plan and if any adjustments need to be made.

Keep in mind that since every organization is unique, we encourage leaders to customize each step listed above to help meet the needs and demands of their business and teams.

What Skills Are Required for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace?

Four primary skills are required to help workforce members effectively and productively resolve conflict:

1. Active listening: Give your undivided attention to team members. This requires putting all devices away and staying focused on your team. Ask follow-up questions to ensure you understand correctly. Repeat back thoughts and ideas to your team members to make sure you heard them clearly and understood them correctly.

2. Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, control, and influence emotions in yourself and others. It encompasses a variety of components, such as self-awareness, internal motivation, empathy, and self-regulation. Emotional intelligence helps you navigate challenging situations with grace. Moreover, it grants you the emotional space to assist team members with their conflicts. Learn more about developing emotional intelligence in the workplace.

3. Open communication: Communication is a two-way street, and good leaders foster this outlook when handling conflict. Resolving challenges requires checking in on team members to ensure that both ends of the agreement are upheld. If any roadblocks arise, the leader should open up communication channels and re-engage workforce members in finding an alternative solution.

4. Impartiality: Driving team members toward solutions requires detaching oneself from the personalities involved. A strong leader will do this to inject impartiality into the conflict-resolution process. This eliminates biases and encourages them to focus on the issue at hand.

For more guidance on conflict resolution, dive into CMOE’s Conflict and Collaboration workshop. Develop practical skills and learn concepts to drive more efficient and harmonious business relationships.