S. Amir Kohan

Conflict-Resolution Modes

Conflict-Resolution Modes

When a direct supervisor is unable to resolve the conflict, HR is normally brought in
as an intervention and mediator. Clear and open communication is the cornerstone
of successful conflict resolution, and thus HR professionals must be skilled communicators.
This includes creating an open communication environment that encourages the
disconnected parties to talk. Listening and probing with nondefensive inquiries will help
dissipate the conflict.

Steps for conflict resolution by a leader involve the following:

Acknowledge that an opposing situation exists. Acquaint yourself with what’s
happening and be open about the problem.
Let the individuals express their feelings.
Define the problem. What is the issue? What is the negative impact on work or
relationships? Are different personality styles part of the problem? Meet with the
opposing parties separately at first and gain their perspective on the situation.
Determine the underlying need.
Find common areas of agreement. Agree on the problem; agree on some small
change to give a feeling of compromise. Find solutions to satisfy needs.
Generate multiple alternatives.
Determine which actions will be taken.
Make sure involved parties buy into actions. (Total silence may be a sign of passive
resistance.) Be sure you get real agreement from everyone.
Determine follow-up to monitor actions and sustained agreements. Schedule a
follow-up check-in to determine how the solutions are working and how those
involved feel about how the solutions are working.

What if the conflict goes unresolved? If the conflict is causing a disruption in the
workplace and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. An outside
consultant such as a mediator may be able to offer other insights on solving the conflict
problem. In some cases, the conflict becomes a performance issue and may become a
topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.


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