Resolving manager conflict at the workplace

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. It can be due to differences in opinion, working style, outcome, etc. But, if it remains unresolved for a long time, it could result in a loss of productivity and performance. This can further negatively impact the business. 

HR professionals are usually tasked with mediating staff issues and manager conflict. Although, it doesn’t mean that they need to be present in every conflict. But, when certain signs are shown, then they need to find the situation immediately.

A few signs are: 

  • Lost productivity 
  • High turnover rate 
  • Increase in absenteeism 
  • Poor mental and physical well-being 
  • Low morale

 Let’s discuss below in detail how HRs can address manager conflict in the workplace: 

Strategies for resolving manager conflict

  • Create an open-door policy: Ensure that you have an open-door policy at your workplace. So that your employees can discuss their concerns without the fear of repercussions.

By implementing this policy, major issues can be in check and prevented before it, gets late. Ensure that you are an active listener and ask questions accordingly. The employees should feel safe to voice their opinions with you. Especially when it’s about manager conflict and issues. 

Besides this, you can also check in with your employees once or twice a week as well. 

  • Active listening: Active listening means that you listen to understand not to respond. It is vital to have a culture where people listen to each other. This helps in resolving conflicts faster and more efficiently. 

Hear out the parties involved from a neutral perspective. It not only lets you make a fair decision but the other party also gets to know where their solution is coming from. This lets the parties connect with each other and help enhance empathy. 

Active listening also assures employees that their input is valued. Their presence matters in the workplace.

  • Set clear expectations: You can have a conflict resolution policy at the workplace. As the name suggests, this lets the employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns. It also includes managing expectations from both managers and employees end. So that they are clearly defined and expressed in advance. 

It ensures what behavior is acceptable and what is unacceptable at the workplace. And if any kind of conflict arises, how will it be resolved, and with what procedures.  These steps can help in alleviating and ensuring better communication in the workplace.

  • Get to the root of the problem: Make sure that before giving any situation, you are aware of the root of the conflict. This will help you understand what the employees need to be resolved. Besides this, it also lets you understand the manager’s perspective. 

Understanding the starting point of the issue assures you why and what the situation is. Ask as many questions as you want from both parties so you can acknowledge the situation more deeply.

But before you implement it, know that you are an impartial mediator. Also, people should be comfortable sharing sensitive information with you.

  • Explore solutions: As you now understand the root cause, explore the situations of the conflict. Ensure that you have paid attention to the unspoken signs too. It includes negative body language, being uncomfortable, and many more. 

This can usually arise in cases where the employees are new joiners or are freshers. 

You should try finding the common ground and addressing the solution the right way. It may happen that one party may disagree with your solution or demand an explanation. Be prepared to clarify and answer their questions logically. 

It is not necessary to come up with a solution immediately. Take your time, but develop a conclusion that is good for the parties involved. 

  • Keep an eye on how things are going: Even after the problem has been solved, check how things are moving forward. Continue to track and follow up on the conflict.

Also, decide the preventive measures for the future in case the issue resurfaces. You may need to readjust expectations and identify alternative solutions. It may happen that you have to take a step back to understand why things aren’t working fine. Even after finding a conclusion too. So, keep a check on the recent issues so that you are aligned with them already. 

You can also create an action plan that can help you to get a solution quickly. Or if possible, you can ask an independent consultancy to help you with one. 

Metrics to be measured by HR

Someone rightly said – “Prevention is better than cure”. 

HRs can consider monitoring the below metrics to monitor employee relations at the workplace. 

  • Number of grievances per given period: You can use a constant measure – month, quarter, or year and grievances per (constant number) of employees. This can be viewed according to department, faculty, manager, or region. 
  • Cost of grievances: This is calculated by time spent by managers, HRs, and legal counsel in the investigation and resolution of complaints, the cost of lost productivity, and legal expenses.
  • Root cause of grievances: It includes management errors, lack of management training, poor hiring decisions, and unclear policies and procedures. 
  • Average close time: This is used to measure the efficiency of the grievance resolution process. It can be calculated by how many days it takes to resolve an issue from the day it is identified as a problem.
  • Return on investment: It calculates how much money the employee relations program has saved the organization.

In a nutshell

Running away from conflicts is never the right option. Acknowledging them will let you take preventive measures on time. Hence, avoiding them from becoming major issues in the future.

Now you are aware of the strategies to handle conflict, you’re ready to put them into practice. 

Ensure that you do it right as this will help in steering your organization toward lasting success.