Conflicts at work are common and can lead to bitterness, anger, misunderstanding, resignations and protests.
Therefore, it is important for employees, employers and conflict negotiators to understand how to resolve issues that arise.
The causes of conflict include disparity in salaries, poor working conditions, poor management styles, performance discrepancies, favouritism, pride, jealousy, personal issues impacting on performance, lack of consultation, poor communication, incorrect perceptions, victimisation, etc.
The following steps are suggested to manage conflict resolution. (Ref: HR Daily Advisor)
Clarify what the disagreement is from both sides. Discuss what needs are not being met on both sides of the conflict with a view to mutual understanding of the problem.
Establish a common goal for both parties. When people know that they are working towards the same goal they are more likely to participate truthfully to reach that same end goal. Ask each party what they would like to achieve as the final goal.
Discuss ways to meet the common goal with both parties. This may involve listening, communicating, clarifying, and brainstorming together.
Determine the barriers to the common goal. Both parties should discuss what problems may prevent a resolution.
Discuss what can be changed and what cannot. Find ways to overcome what cannot be changed. Be proactive in anticipating similar challenges in the future.
Agree on the best way to resolve the conflict. Discuss what the best solution will be for both parties. Find common ground. Talk about the responsibility each party has towards maintaining the solution.
Acknowledge the agreed upon solution and determine how each party will be responsible for it. In this way, there will be a ‘win-win’ situation.
In South Africa, we have conflicts leading to violent protests that end up in damage to property and the loss of lives. It is important for employers to consult widely, address grievances promptly and be proactive in anticipating future problems.