Being able to solve your own conflicts is wonderful, but not always possible at the workplace. HR managers have to take up the responsibility of solving the conflicts at the workplace. They are constantly brought down by the conflicts that are like a judgement call, and it is quite likely that feelings of one or more employees will get hurt.
So, what should HR managers do when they encounter a situation where there is no right or wrong, probably just a misunderstanding?
Here’s a 5-step guide to avoid being hostile with your employees and still offer them a solution they have been struggling to find.
Step 1: Step Back and Understand
Take a step back and try to understand the situation. Listening to only one side of the story can lead to a biased solution. Instead, sit with both the employees and give them a chance to explain the situation clearly. For this, you need to know the issue and reach to the core of the problem. Keep asking questions and persuade them to explain until you are sure that you fully understand what is causing the dispute. Being a third-party, you have the power to see what people in conflict are not able to understand.
Step 2: Talk To Each Person Separately
Once you are sure you have a good grasp of the conflict, talk to each involved individual separately.
Why you should do this?
There may be things that both of them are not able to explain in front of each other. To get to know what is actually causing the conflict you need to talk alone. In these one-on-one sessions, you can inquire about how the dispute started and what caused the conflict.
For instance, one employee may not be able to openly tell you that the other person bullied him or her. They will be more comfortable in sharing this when there is no audience.
Step 3: Help Them Reach a Common Point
Reaching a common point may drain out all your energy. This may involve aggressive discussions, and sometimes, you won’t even find the solution at all.
However, HR’s work is to try, so here’s how you can do it.
Firstly, evaluate on your own what could be the possible solution.
Secondly, you should brainstorm with your other HR team members to see how everyone can come to a middle ground.
Thirdly, you meet involved individuals, tell them your way out and ask them if they are willing to try.
For instance, employee A has an issue with employee B because B asks him to stay back in the office after work hours so that everyone can complete their work. B thinks that A doesn’t stay back even if the team has super-urgent and important work.
In such a situation, one possible solution can be to make B understand that is not logical to ask A to stay back daily. But, at the same time, A should understand that the project belongs to the team and he should stay back when something urgent comes up. This could be the easiest possible common goal.
Step 4: Understand the Barrier
If even one of the parties refuses to come to a common ground or agree to what is best for the organization, you need to understand the situation better. Sit again with both the employees together to know what is preventing the resolution of this issue. Then, you can even try to talk to both the employees separately about the solution that they would like. However, here, HR needs to think in favor of the workplace as well.
Taking the above example again – if employee A wishes to leave office on time no matter what the situation is, then that may harm the working pattern of the organization. Sometimes, every employee has to stay back due to urgent work and this is a common, unsaid rule we all know.
If this happens, HR managers need to take a firm step and think in favor of the organization and not the employee.
Step 5: Finally, Enable Mutually Agreeable Work Conditions
After this, you can finally come to a mutually agreeable condition. Ensure both parties that this condition will be followed and not ignored under any circumstances. Also, it helps to actually ask your team to say that ‘I agree to ….’ statements out loud to give them a sense of responsibility.
It is impossible to avoid conflicts at the workplace. With so many different people, varied lifestyles, and non-matching thinking patterns, it is common for employees to have disputes. However, resolving these disputes is essential. It is not morally right as well as ethical to ignore such issues as if you do it, things will further complicate in the future. So, try to resolve all the conflicts as fast as possible.