A utopian workplace doesn’t exist, despite how hard some people try to convince themselves otherwise. Even if you hire the very best people and cultivate a positive, professional work environment, there will always be conflict. This is especially true in any workplace with stressful objectives and goals. People who aren’t under stress will fall into conflict; people dealing with pressure are even more likely to clash despite their best efforts. That is why it is so important to have a conflict resolution policy in place. Simply crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is not sufficient.
At #1 HR Expert, our team has years of experience in a wide variety of workplaces, and that experience has shown us just how important conflict resolution is to the survival and success of any team. We have also learned that creating conflict resolution policies is rarely anyone’s favorite activity. The good news is, as long as you keep your eyes on the basics, you can create a strong policy able to handle all kinds of clashes. Read on to learn more!
How to Create an Excellent Conflict Resolution Policy
Give your employees the power to talk among themselves first.
- Contentious situations don’t need to jump into conflict immediately. In fact, there is usually always a chance for a conversation leading to resolution. Before employees escalate their conflict to the manager’s office, they should feel supported in talking things out themselves. Many conflicts are one-sided, and all parties should have a chance to resolve things before things escalate. By empowering your employees to talk amongst themselves, you avoid the very awkward situation that shows up when an employee learns that a coworker went to management about them. This is one of the quickest paths to an ugly situation, so encourage conversation first.
Promote communication on all levels.
- It has to be okay to disagree in your workplace. Promoting open communication and discussion around disagreements will make your entire team stronger. You may have to train your teams on what professional communication looks like, as many people don’t know how to express their differences constructively. When done correctly, conflict can actually strengthen your team’s ability to think creatively and solve problems.
Make it clear that supervisors are present to help.
- While employees should generally work to solve issues amongst themselves without running to management immediately, there are conflicts that cannot be resolved without some help. If peer-to-peer conflict resolution isn’t working, your employees should feel comfortable turning to their supervisors for mediation. It’s important to remember that employees can have conflicts with their supervisors, too, and the supervisors should be ready to talk things through.
Be on the lookout for unreported employee conflict.
- Proactivity is key when it comes to workplace conflict. The truth is, no matter how much you do to foster an open, safe environment, some employees will hide issues from you. Keep your antennas up around the office. Don’t assume silence means peace. Work on your ability to read a room and recognize changes in the ways your employees interact. Maybe you’ve seen a group of them go to lunch every week, and then something changes and you don’t see them anymore. This is a sign that investigation may be necessary. When tensions start to rise in the office, even people who have nothing to do with the conflict end up suffering. In short, conflict impacts everyone, and it should never be ignored.
Understand when it’s time to bring HR into the situation.
- When talking things out and going to the supervisor doesn’t resolve the conflict, it is definitely time to turn to HR. However, the employees have to take that step. Make sure they know that they know HR is available to help them. A great HR professional will mediate the situation and work to provide a helpful, neutral perspective. Depending on how severe the situation is, an investigation may be required.
- Employees should leave HR mediation with guidance and a plan of action moving forward. There should also be a follow-up meeting scheduled so that the HR professional can stay in touch with the situation.
Keep the code of conduct front and center for your employees.
- Whenever people get hired, they should be given a bunch of paperwork. One of the most important pieces of paperwork is the code of conduct, which should outline basic requirements for behavior in the office. Many times, people get caught up in their day-to-day activities and they let things slide. It can be a really good idea to remind your team about office expectations and the consequences that can follow if the code of conduct is violated.
Realize that conflict resolution never stops.
- It would be wonderful if conflicts could be neatly resolved and tied up so you can move on. However, each situation is different, and conflict tends to create more conflict. Some conflicts will be resolved and never crop up again, but others will keep coming back around. Some conflicts don’t take long to be resolved, and others need a lot of careful time and attention. That is why it is so important to check back in to ensure that the resolution actually happened. It is okay to need to get back into things in order to achieve the best results.
Turn to #1 HR Expert Today
Many supervisors will avoid conflict because they haven’t been taught how to handle it correctly. That is where a great HR professional can help. Too many times, people avoid their HR professionals because the HR professionals haven’t been trained to do their jobs. #1 HR Expert is here to provide training for prospective HR professionals. However, we do a lot more than that. We help match talented, well-trained HR professionals to companies who need them. We do what we do because we are passionate about bringing true care to the staffing and recruiting industry. There is nothing we love more than finding someone the perfect job so that everyone wins. Our 20 years of experience empower us to provide the industry-leading HR solutions that both companies and budding HR professionals need. Contact us in California to learn more!