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Articles 8 Can't-Miss Tips for HR: How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

8 Can't-Miss Tips for HR: How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

HR
Bitrix24 Team
10 min
466
Updated: June 10, 2024
Bitrix24 Team
Updated: June 10, 2024
8 Can't-Miss Tips for HR: How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

Managing conflict in the workplace is one of the most important elements of a healthy and productive organization. Toxic environments can ruin even the most talented teams, so it is well worth making a top-down culture that knows how to handle conflicts in the office. 

The human resources department is of course where the buck stops in preventing conflicts at work. However, this doesn’t mean it is entirely down to them. Conflict management in the workplace has the biggest impact when everybody in the company plays their part. 

We can safely assume that you’re here because your workplace is unsettled at the moment, and you’ve come to the right place. This article will cover eight key strategies for HR teams to manage workplace conflicts so you can solve ongoing issues and stop them from happening again in the future.

1. Get to the root cause of the conflict

When you’ve got underlying problems in the workplace, attention-grabbing flashpoints often have nothing to do with the actual cause of conflict. For example, an argument could erupt about disobedience, but digging deeper into the context could reveal that the real reason is an unclear job role. 

If you don’t know the root cause, managing conflict in the workplace can only ever be a temporary fix. Here are three ways to find out what you need to resolve.

  • Active listening. One of the most common tips for HR resolving workplace disputes is to hear grievances from all parties alongside the context, emotions, and unspoken elements of communication. Active listening almost always reveals deeper issues beyond surface-level complaints.

  • Employee surveys and feedback tools. Anonymous survey tools can help gather honest perspectives from those involved in a conflict as well as impartial witnesses. Connecting the dots between multiple people’s feedback forms a more detailed picture of what’s really going on.

  • Root cause analysis (RCA). A formal root cause analysis is a valuable tool in conflict management for HR professionals that involves breaking down the problem into smaller pieces. One method is to ask “why?” multiple times until you get to the core of the matter. 

Incorporating these conflict de-escalation strategies in a formal process ensures that you deal with the dispute effectively while treating all individuals fairly. 

Bitrix24 provides you with all the tools that promote workplace conflict resolution for HR teams

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2. Promote open communication throughout your company

Open communication is a way of preventing conflicts at work before they even begin. Personal grievances that go unheard tend to bubble under the surface before unexpectedly exploding and rocking the boat. On the other hand, when team members know they can raise issues without fear of repercussions, they can blow off steam incrementally and come to constructive compromises. 

Knowing how to resolve conflict in the workplace as a manager entails learning what calms tense situations and what inflames them. Any communication breakdowns should be analyzed in an effort to improve your skills. HR departments can help by requesting confidential assessments of managers and using them to offer constructive feedback. 

From a technical point of view, offering a range of communication channels allows people to get in touch in the way they feel most comfortable. Those who don’t feel at ease in face-to-face meetings can send an instant message to their boss, and remote workers who need a personal connection can fire up a video call. 

3. Set clear expectations through roles, responsibilities, and policies

Hand-in-hand with company culture are the formal policies and guidelines that set expectations for your entire team. It’s all about consistency. During a conflict, tensions are high, and the slightest sense of unfairness can send any positive progress spiraling downwards. 

Therefore, managing conflict in the workplace relies on clear rules regarding:

  • Acceptable and unacceptable behavior

  • Attendance, punctuality, and reporting absence

  • Performance evaluation procedures

  • Dress codes

  • Anti-discrimination and harassment policies

  • Communication methods and response times

  • Remote work expectations

  • Conflict resolution protocols

When all of these rules are understood on a company-wide level, you have solid documents that you can refer to throughout conflict management in the workplace. This leaves less room for disgruntled employees to exploit loopholes and drag out difficult processes.

On an individual level, being clear and consistent in assigning roles and responsibilities can prevent employees from being overworked or creatively stifled. Without written job descriptions, employees tend to choose to carry out specific tasks or not based on feelings rather than on what is best for the company. 

One of the best tips for HR resolving workplace disputes is that less ambiguity means more productive resolutions. As a result, clear roles, responsibilities, and policies are essential for a harmonious workplace. 

8 Can't-Miss Tips for HR: How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

4. Provide training on how to manage conflict in the workplace

Rules for a business aren’t enough if your HR team and management lack the ability to implement them in a fair and consistent manner. Training in conflict management for HR professionals is a wise investment that can be done through external organizations or by using evergreen documents stored on your cloud-based drive

Clearly, no two companies are the same, and they require different training styles to learn about managing conflict in the workplace. Here, we’ll outline a few.

  • E-learning modules are a fantastic way of teaching a core curriculum of strategies to manage workplace conflicts. Plenty of these exist online, but why not make your own customized e-learning journey? Curate content that is specific to your organization before tracking each participant’s progress in real time.

  • Interactive simulations are a fun and impactful method to learn, practice, and analyze key skills in a risk-free scenario. More practical than theoretical, they help to give HR team members the confidence to apply lessons in real-life conflict scenarios.

  • Video tutorials allow you to run workplace conflict resolution for HR teams that they can study in their own time. The visual element combines with audio for a more rounded learning experience and once the video is recorded, people can access it as needed.

  • Webinars and live sessions create an interactive environment for remote teams to learn top content and ask questions. Breakout rooms allow smaller groups to share experiences and run simulations that they can analyze later. 

However you decide to deliver training, it should always focus on relevant, actionable topics to keep your team engaged.

5. Encourage collaborative problem-solving to bring your team together

Rather than holding the keys to managing conflict in the workplace, leaders and HR teams should give some of the responsibility to each and every employee. This doesn’t mean intervening before tensions spill over, it covers the basics of a collaborative environment. 

Team building activities, for example, are a fun way of breaking down barriers and forging social connections that can help to diffuse situations back in the office. Whether it’s problem-solving tasks or creative projects, these sessions encourage teams to work together, fostering relationships and improving communication. 

Joint projects help to reduce tensions between different departments. When one team sees the restrictions and challenges that another faces, they are far more understanding when things don’t go as smoothly as they’d like. 

Role rotation is especially effective for remote teams who can’t physically see what their colleagues do on a daily basis. Occasional job-swapping exposes people to how others operate, which promotes empathy and reduces conflict.

6. Implement mediation when the situation calls for it

Despite your best efforts in managing conflict in the workplace, you can never guarantee that two opposing ideas won’t come up against each other. While there is a lot you can do to put out small fires here and there, there may be times when you need to go through a formal mediation process. 

Here, we’ll go over the steps that most mediation processes follow. 

  • Pre-mediation preparation. Start by assessing the dispute and taking statements from those involved. Based on this, choose an impartial mediator — either an HR professional or a third-party individual — and set a schedule.

  • Opening session. Set the ground rules for the process, such as confidentiality and an outline of the later steps. Allow each party to share their perspective with no interruption, clarifying the issues at hand.

  • Negotiation. Discuss options available, with the mediator helping to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution. 

  • Agreement signing. Formalize the next steps, with each party signing a document agreeing to their commitments. Securely store a copy of the document by restricting access only to those you choose. 

  • Post-mediation follow-up. Check in with both parties to ensure the agreement is being followed and no flare-ups have occurred since. Keep records of the mediation and use it as a reference to improve your process moving forward.

8 Can't-Miss Tips for HR: How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

7. Follow-up with conflict de-escalation strategies

Whether or not you’ve gone through a mediation process, follow-ups are crucial in calming the storm in the period after a conflict. Just like your rules and regulations, follow-ups should be a structured process and never a casual, ad-hoc approach.

This is where task management tools come into play. Managing conflict in the workplace requires a series of steps at preset intervals. A replicable workflow with check-ins, feedback, and reporting stages is ideal for maintaining consistency after every conflict. Automated scheduling will invite all relevant parties to key meetings, while reminders ensure that everybody comes prepared.  

Follow-ups not only help to prevent any repeat occurrences, but crucially, they send a message to everybody in your organization that you are invested in their progress and happiness at work. This is a powerful sign among the myriad elements that make managing conflict in the workplace easier. 

Building effective conflict resolution processes is an ongoing effort for the HR department. Follow-up meetings after interventions present a valuable opportunity to assess the system's effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Keep a good record of your results and test new strategies in the future to refine your resolution techniques.

8. Create a low-conflict culture throughout your HR duties

HR departments can really set the standards for how your team members manage workplace conflicts. 

Through your interviews, onboarding, and daily work, maintain an environment of inclusivity and respect. Diversity training, inclusive policies, and collaborative practices all provide the basis for a low-conflict culture by sharing experiences and understanding different points of view. 

Promoting a healthy work-life balance has become a somewhat unlikely way of managing conflict in the workplace. Although it doesn’t deal with disputes directly, it stifles a common source of frustration and arguments: Stress. 

Allowing people flexibility so they feel fulfilled both at work and home eases tensions and leads to a more peaceful atmosphere. As a result, you don’t just get a less volatile environment, but a more productive team who can think clearly and creatively.

8 Can't-Miss Tips for HR: How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

Bitrix24: Laying the groundwork for managing conflict in the workplace

Although we can't send you a perfectly conflict-free workforce, Bitrix24 can do the next best thing: Provide you with all the tools that promote workplace conflict resolution for HR teams.

  • Collaborative docs and cloud-based storage to write and keep policies, contracts, and agreements

  • Task management tools to be transparent and clear regarding roles and responsibilities

  • A reward and motivation system with badges and likes to recognize acheivements

  • Communication tools for multi-channel opportunities to raise concerns

  • A full suite of HR tools to set guidelines, create onboardings, and run training sessions 

So if you want to know how to handle conflicts in the office, sign up for Bitrix24 and start laying the groundwork today.

Bitrix24 provides you with all the tools that promote workplace conflict resolution for HR teams

Collaborate, communicate, manage tasks, and reward your team - all in one place with Bitrix24

Register Today

FAQs

What are the key steps HR should take to manage workplace conflicts effectively?

The key steps HR should take to manage workplace conflicts effectively are: 

  • Understand the issues at hand

  • Encourage open communication

  • Facilitate mediation processes when necessary

  • Follow up and reflect on the process

How can HR professionals prevent conflicts in the workplace?

HR professionals prevent conflicts in the workplace by:

  • Creating clear policies

  • Providing regular training in communication and conflict resolution

  • Promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity

  • Maintaining open lines of communication across the organization

What are some common mistakes HR makes in conflict resolution and how to avoid them?

Common mistakes HR makes in conflict resolution include delaying intervention, taking sides, and insufficient follow-ups. Avoid these by recognizing conflict and acting quickly, using trusted and impartial mediators, and scheduling structured follow-up meetings.



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Table of Content
1. Get to the root cause of the conflict 2. Promote open communication throughout your company 3. Set clear expectations through roles, responsibilities, and policies 4. Provide training on how to manage conflict in the workplace 5. Encourage collaborative problem-solving to bring your team together 6. Implement mediation when the situation calls for it 7. Follow-up with conflict de-escalation strategies 8. Create a low-conflict culture throughout your HR duties Bitrix24: Laying the groundwork for managing conflict in the workplace FAQs What are the key steps HR should take to manage workplace conflicts effectively? How can HR professionals prevent conflicts in the workplace? What are some common mistakes HR makes in conflict resolution and how to avoid them?
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