8 Steps to Conflict Resolution

Now that we’ve established how managing conflict is critical to the overall success of your business, today’s Advisor provides you with a simple eight-step conflict resolution process that you can train your employees to use for resolving any type of workplace conflict.

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The 8 Steps

Step one is to call a meeting with all the individuals involved in the conflict. Make sure you include everybody involved. If you leave anyone out, the conflict cannot be effectively and permanently resolved.
Step two is to establish discussion rules. For example, “The goal is to find a mutually acceptable solution.” Or, “It’s OK to express thoughts and feelings openly as long as you are respectful of one another.”
Step three is to define the problem clearly in terms of needs. Each party to the conflict must have a full opportunity to define needs in terms the others can understand. This takes time and patience. The key to resolving conflict often comes when people recognize what they actually need, as distinct from what they would merely like.
Step four is to develop possible solutions that will meet the needs of both—or all— parties involved in the conflict. You may have to get the ball rolling by making suggestions of your own. But once employees are talking, let them offer their ideas. Show your openness to employees’ suggestions by not evaluating ideas immediately.
Step five is to select a mutually beneficial solution from among those suggested. Remember, the best solution—a lasting solution—is one that meets the needs of each party as far as possible. Try not to impose a solution, but rather, guide the employees involved to make the best choice themselves.
Step six is to develop an action plan—who will do what, by when, and how to implement the resolution of the conflict. This is a vital step. Without it, conflict could easily flare up again.
Step seven is to implement the plan and monitor the plan in action. Don’t just walk away thinking the plan will work. Check to make sure it does.
Step eight is to evaluate the conflict resolution process in general and the resolution of this conflict specifically. Did the process yield an effective, positive result? Were employees involved satisfied with the resolution? Will your efforts help to eliminate or at least minimize this type of conflict in the future?
Think about the way your managers and supervisors manage conflict. Do they follow these eight steps to achieve positive outcomes? Or could they use more practice in this valuable skill?