​​​​​Useful resources

Managing conflicts and disputes2 people talking at a desk

It is good business practice to create workplaces that encourages all employees to express different/better ideas and ways of doing things. Sometimes suggestions or change may result in healthy debate, other times they may be met with opposition. Effectively managing this process will prevent damaging conflict. Often conflict occurs because we fail to deal with a problem when it first arises.

Some useful techniques on how to approach conflict resolution are listed below.

  • Listen to both sides of the story and ensure you thoroughly understand the issues.

  • Make sure each party stays focussed on the cause of the issue.

  • Avoid hiding behind policies (ensure policies reflect reasonable expectations), pulling rank and personal attacks.

  • Encourage the conflicting parties to agree on some point and find some common ground.

  • Stick to the facts. Do not become engaged in the argument or accusations.

  • You can bring an element of calm by assuming the role of mediator.

  • Sort out the easy issues first. Gaining agreement on something is encouraging.

  • Keep early discussions informal and get both parties to recognise the value of the workplace relationship.

  • Be creative in how you approach the resolution. The first solution may not always be the best or most appropriate.

  • Aim for a genuine, mutually agreed outcome: try to create a win/win situation.

  • Use formal arbitration as a last resort.

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Important information
Developing good conflict management and resolution skills can save your business a lot of angst, lost productivity, poor performance and interpersonal grief. It makes good business sense to resolve conflict that takes the focus of employees away from working effectively and efficiently in your business.

For information and resources, visit Worksafe.

Bullying at work can also cause possible workplace conflict issues. Download this bullying fact sheet from Worksafe for guidance on how to deal with bullying in the workplace.