Ninety eight percent of HR professionals say they’re called upon to help resolve issues according to a survey by Denver-based Employee Development Systems. Worse still, 81 percent say conflict leads to turnover and 77 percent believe it causes absenteeism.
So it’s important to keep conflicts in check. How can you act as a mediator and negotiate a settlement when employees disagree? Try this path:
- Pay attention to the relationship first and the issue second by maintaining control and approaching the conflict in a calm, rational manner. Make it clear that you’re only the mediator, and you expect the participants to resolve their own problems.
- Have each party state their issues, then repeat them to make sure both sides agree. Then set some ground rules for the discussion, so the participants don’t digress or inject extraneous issues.
- Impose a deadline for resolving the conflict, so people don’t waste time arguing.
- Find common ground and check off each item as the participants reach a resolution in order to keep the talks moving.
- Try role reversal so each participant can consider the other’s view, or call a brief hiatus and ask them to return with an idea to resolve each remaining issue.
- Don’t focus on who’s right or who’s wrong, focus on solutions.
- Take notes and send a letter or e-mail confirming the agreement so both parties understand their commitments.
- Be ready to take action if the parties can’t reach a resolution or find a new battleground, because let’s face it, sometimes people just can’t get along.
The payoff: better problem solving among employees, innovation, increased motivation, a better understanding of others and higher team performance.