Conflict is inevitable, especially in a workplace where employees have to spend 40 hours or more a week.
Conflicts between employees and employers, and between colleagues, can negatively affect productivity and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line. Good workers could resign, and relationships could disintegrate. Also, according to Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc., litigation for any business is damaging to its reputation and could cause a gradual erosion of its assets.
Before any of that takes place, you should make sure that any dispute between employees is given the proper attention. Mediation is the first action you take when dealing with company strife that could arise in the workplace. In many cases, managers who choose to mediate can avoid the more damaging costs of litigation.
While it may be tempting to simply wish the conflict away or force an iron-hand on your employees, these don’t work. When mediating employee disputes, communication and negotiation skills are of the utmost importance.
1. Listen to communicate, not instigate.
When you sit down to listen, do you do it so you can argue your point? If you want to help employees resolve a matter that they think is unjust, listen first and make a list of their concerns. Remember, you are there to present solutions and not start a debate.
2. Appeal to emotion.
Many companies emphasize the importance of logic and reason, but disputatious employees are already entrenched in their emotions and sometimes could be blind to reasonable arguments. Appeal to their emotion and make them understand what the other party might feel. You can help both parties see what the other side feels and why they feel that way.
3. Be creative.
There are no limits to creativity when solving a problem. Ultimately, the best mediators see office rows as simply just another challenge to overcome so they can come up with new ways to increase business growth and reinforce company camaraderie.
4. Reinforce your role as mediator.
Mediators aren’t here to take sides, pick a winner, or mete out punishments. All throughout the process, always make sure that all sides understand that this is NOT your role. Your role is to create an open, honest, and accepting venue where everyone can speak their mind and collaborate with one another to come up with a win-win solution.
You should accept the fact that mediation cannot resolve all disputes. You cannot settle breaches of the law, or cases of abuse and violence, through negotiation. In such cases, it is important to go to professionals to ensure that any damage to your company’s reputation and your employee’s life is quickly settled.
It is always wise to pick your battles as a mediator. Sometimes, you simply have to accept that some people are unable to work together and you may have to let them go their separate way.