Techniques for managing conflicts
I have developed a process called the 5 A’s technique of managing conflicts are they are as follows:
The assessment phase is the investigative stage when dealing with conflict situations. In the assessment phase you need to investigate and gather all information related to the conflict. These will include the following:
• What is the conflict?
• Who is responsible for the conflict?
• Is there a history of conflicts with this person / department?
Once you have conducted a thorough assessment you need to acknowledge the conflict. If a conflict exists between a manager and an employee, the manager must inform the employee of the conflict at hand and advise them of the procedure for resolution of the conflict.
At this point the manager must begin the formal conflict management resolution protocols which include the following:
• Arrange a meeting between themselves and the employee.
• Inform the employee of the time, date and venue for the meeting both verbally and in writing by means of an email request for a meeting.
• Inform the employee that they may appoint a facilitator to act on their behalf during the meeting. This would only occur if there were hostile interactions between the employee and their manager.
• Send the employee an agenda for the meeting.
• Human resources labour representative should be present at the meeting.
If for example there was a conflict between two departments, the same would apply as above however you would nominate an independent facilitator to chair the meeting to ensure that it does not get hijacked or detoured.
Both parties must participate in the process with the right attitude. Going into a conflict management situation with a negative approach has a strong possibility of failing. The attitude must be one of wanting to resolve the issue at hand and clear a way forward so that both parties can continue working together.
During the resolution period of resolving a conflict a fair number of action points will be recorded which must be completed in an acceptable timeframe. Taking action and giving feedback are the two critical key success factors. If you do not take the necessary action the conflict situation will resurface on a higher scale.
An example of this might be where a manager and employee have a conflict between them. The facilitator advises that they should conduct a one on one session weekly to build on their relationship. The action point is to conduct the one on one. Failing to do so will result in a conflict situation. Both the manager and employee will have the opportunity to give one another feedback.
Once the conflict situation has been resolved, it should be analysed to determine what caused the conflict situation to begin with and what measures can be put in place to stop this type of situation from reoccurring. The problem in most conflict situations today is that no post conflict management analysis takes place.
Develop and implement a sound quality management function and improve your one on one interaction with your employees and conflicts within your department will become a thing of the past. Communication is the key most important ingredient for avoiding conflict situations.