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Conflict resolution

How to resolve conflicts and maintain a positive organisational culture

Conflicts are inevitable in organisations. In fact, sometimes conflicts are encouraged if they fuel open mindedness and reduce groupthink; these are known as healthy conflicts. However, the negative kind of conflict can really be toxic to an organisation and its people. When unresolved, they can poison the organisation’s culture having a ripple effect from the initial conflict parties to the entire organisation. Here is how you can resolve conflicts in your organisation and maintain a positive culture:

Be timely in addressing conflicts

Timing is crucial when it comes to conflict resolution. When conflicts are swept under the carpet, they can become too deep-seeded such that resolution efforts will be futile. Leaders should address a conflict when it comes to their attention. Unresolved conflicts lead to mistrust of the leader by employees, especially if timely action is not taken after an incident has been reported. Further, the parties involved in the conflict can cause damage to the organisational culture since they will be spreading negative attitudes towards each other, which could affect other employees. It can be helpful when there are policies and guidelines in place for conflict resolution and that this is communicated to the employees from time to time.

No bias in resolving conflicts

When resolving conflicts, the leader responsible should listen attentively and ask questions to get to the root of the conflict. Questions should be more exploratory and less accusatory. Remember, the parties involved can only change their behaviour but not necessarily their personality. Questions such as, “Why are you like this?” are based on people’s personalities and sound accusatory. Asking exploratory questions to get the facts is important in order to make sure that all facts related to the conflict are on the table before forging a way forward. Such questions include: When? Where? Who? How? The leader should also be objective such that one party of the conflict is not favoured at the expense of the other. Lack of bias also makes the parties to a conflict trust their leader to deliver a working solution to the issue.

Seek common ground amongst conflicting parties

Most conflicts do not have a straightforward solution. It is therefore up to the leader to find a way to resolve the conflict that will be acceptable to both parties. Exploring shared concerns between the parties helps understand what is important to them so it can be considered in the resolution. As a leader, you may involve the parties to brainstorm for a solution that may lead to a win-win situation. Having all the facts and proposed solutions, you may now go ahead and propose an absolute solution that the parties will agree to. It is important to follow up with the parties to ensure the conflict was resolved.

Open communication is very essential in order to maintain a positive organisational culture. It also encouraged that conflicts be aired openly as opposed to being hidden. Be sure to resolve conflicts to maintain a vibrant organisational culture.

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