You either love it or you hate it. Handling conflict at work can either make you sick to your stomach or possibly a bit giddy. For people who know how to resolve issues, conflict resolution is anything but scary.
In fact, you just might start looking forward to it as a way to increase unity and productivity around the office.
1. Gather Concrete Evidence.
Don’t make the number one mistake in conflict resolution by entering into a conversation without concrete facts. He said and she said is not going to cut it. You need proof. For example, if you have an employee who claims he saw a co-worker steal from the petty cash box there better be something to back up that claim. Look over surveillance footage, re-run the numbers to see if things balance, interview other parties who may be involved.
If you utilize software that monitors your company’s fleet, such as Teletrac director, you might notice an employee going rogue when they should be making deliveries. Evidence like this can be incredibly valuable when attempting to confront an employee about how they use their company vehicle and what they do when they are on the clock.
When you have a solid case, it gives you a greater sense of confidence. You will likely find you approach the conversation with more control and less emotion. Do yourself a favor and resist the impulse to confront an employee until you have gathered sufficient data to support your claim.
2. Listen to All Sides.
If you have followed step one it can make step two difficult. Sometimes if you have a lot of evidence that incriminates an employee you may not want to listen to them talk. You may assume they are giving you excuses, or even worse, lying right to your face. Dig deep and hold on to your composure. There is always room to listen to all sides of the story.
Begin by presenting the problem and ask the employee(s) to address each issue. Use active listening skills to encourage all parties to communicate facts and feelings. Ask questions to check accuracy as well as to gather more details. Make sure you do not ask questions in an accusatory way. Repeat things if necessary, to make sure you understood what was said. Summarize both sides and then move to your side of the story.
Following their responses, you can then present the evidence you have. You do not want to show your cards until you have given the employee(s) the chance to come clean. At this point, they don’t know what you know, so you will see just how honest and forthcoming they are without being pushed.
3. Find a “Win-Win” Solution.
Assuming the issue is not worthy of termination, this is where everyone can participate in finding a solution that works for all involved. Give everyone a chance to offer options and be sure to validate their contributions. Work together to compromise on a solution that will solve the problem, prevent it from happening again, and benefit the company as a whole.
Now everyone must work to move past the issue. It does no one good to harbor resentment or animosity. If these conflict resolution tips are followed, all parties should feel heard and involved in the solution.