Five Conflict Resolution Tips Every Boss Should Know

Dr. Ryan Giffen

No workplace functions without some conflict. Even the businesses that seem to be the best in their field will experience conflict between employees. As the leader of your business, you should be well versed in conflict resolution in the workplace. In order to understand how to stop a dispute, you must have some conflict resolution strategies on-hand. 

1. Immediate Intervention 

The longer the two sides are in conflict, the harder it will be to repair the impact the conflict has on productivity and morale. The moment you hear of any dispute, bring the individuals involved in your office to discuss things. The longer your employees sit and think about the dispute, the more heated they will get. Don’t charge into things, however. One of the most helpful conflict resolution strategies is that you are calm and ready to mediate before you involve yourself in a conflict, as it will affect how your employees act during a healthy debate. 

2. Don’t Give Up 

When you set out for conflict resolution in the workplace, you should set out to find a resolution, no matter how long it takes. Many times, your employees will have a disagreement over a misunderstanding. It can be difficult for one side to admit that they misinterpreted something or are in the wrong. Instead of giving up, try going back a few steps. Your goal is to reduce traction between co-workers. Once things have calmed down, your employees will be more open to hearing a side different from their own and reaching a resolution.

3. Don’t Take Sides

Anyone in the workplace, including you, as a boss, will have friends. Even if you are fair to all of your co-workers, you may favor some co-workers more due to common interests or familiarity. This makes it difficult to moderate an argument that involves a friend. For one, the other employee may be aware that you are friendlier with their opponent and will show sensitivity to whether you treat them the same or not. Ensure that you make it clear that you are holding both sides responsible for finding a solution and are not holding favor over one side. Even if you think you are being fair to your employees despite being friendlier with one, you are still biased. Take an extra step back to ensure that you are being fair to both employees. 

4. Listen Carefully

As the head of your business, you may feel that you are heavily involved with any conflict within your business. Listening and allowing the opposing parties to talk things out will help find a resolution much more quickly. In fact, you may want to speak to each employee separately, then together briefly before leaving them alone to speak together. This is one of the most useful conflict resolution strategies, as employees might put on an act in front of you or feel that they need to defend themselves even more. Once the employees are left to talk alone after brief mediation from you, things will calm down much more quickly. 

5. Find a Resolution Together

While you are listening to your employees, you must be thinking of resolutions for both sides. Allow all sides to come up with plenty of resolutions and review the ideas that have come afterward. Once all sides have agreed on a resolution to the conflict, make sure that all of you are committed to it. It will take time for things to fully cool off, but eventually, with commitment, things will work out. 

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.