No matter how well your team gets along, workplace conflicts are bound to arise from time to time. Sometimes these conflicts are minor and workers can solve their issues themselves. However, there will be instances when you'll need to step in as the leader and help resolve the situation.
While it can be difficult to mediate between two parties who vehemently disagree with each other, it's important to understand how to do so if you wish to restore peace on your team. Below, seven entrepreneurs explain how they approach workplace conflict resolution, and how they prevent the same problem from cropping up in the future.
Immediately address the conflict head-on.
As with any conflict, workplace issues should be dealt with as soon as possible and in a direct, straightforward manner, says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance.
"Talk with employees connected to the situation and come to a swift decision," Schrage says. "These types of things cannot linger -- you have to nip them in the bud. By doing so, your business will operate better and your team members will respect you more."
Validate everyone's feelings.
Conflict happens because humans are emotional creatures, says Brittany Hodak, an entrepreneur and keynote speaker. It's not always a bad thing, either -- in fact, it shows that employees are emotionally invested in their work.
When trying to resolve a situation, Hodak recommends first acknowledging and validating the feelings that led to the conflict.
"If you don't address the underlying emotions, you're unlikely to solve the issue and it will eventually repeat itself," Hodak adds.
Have a group discussion.
Serenity Gibbons, local unit lead for NAACP, advises creating a space for those in conflict, along with management, to discuss what happened as a group.
"Actively listen to each person and work on understanding that perspective," says Gibbons. "Find a place to reach a resolution, and then talk about ideas to ensure it doesn't happen in the future. These are often very fruitful discussions where everyone feels that they are heard and that their opinion matters."
Get to the root of the problem.
The immediate reaction to a workplace conflict depends on where both parties are emotionally, says Solomon Thimothy, president of OneIMS. For passive-aggressive conflicts, drag the issue to the surface. If it's already a heated fight, a leader should step in to cool things down. Then, he says, it's time to get to the root of the issue.
"Once the sides become emotionally available for a constructive dialogue, ask them when this conflict really started," Thimothy says. "Your goal is to discover the actual problem and from then on, seek the solution."
Consult a neutral mediator.
The best way to constructively resolve workplace conflicts is to involve a proper mediator, says Bryce Welker, CEO of Beat The CPA. This person should be an unbiased third party with conflict resolution experience, as well as knowledge of your workplace's culture.
"When a conflict arose in my own team, we brought in a conflict resolution expert who helped us identify the root cause, resolve the argument and prevent future conflicts," says Welker.
Establish goals for both parties.
Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights, says the first step in conflict resolution is setting a goal for what you'd like to happen, beyond simply "solving the problem."
"Set a goal that pertains to each person so you know what to say and how to handle the situation effectively," Christoff explains. "For example, your goal for one side of the party could be to ask questions to find out what started the conflict."
Create a signed conflict resolution plan.
A formal conflict resolution plan will help you document the incident and explain the solution reached by both parties, says Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner.
"This sheet will give both groups time to state their piece and address any concerns they might have," Balkhi adds. "After both parties have stated their case, work to resolve the issues and have both employees sign the agreement."