Conflict in the workplace is one of the most common issues that managers have to deal with in managing employees. It is very common, especially for newer managers, to ignore the problem hoping that it goes away. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case and by ignoring the issue, it tends to create a bigger problem that could have been dealt with much easier if it had been discussed earlier. I am suggesting that you utilize the IBR Approach to conflict resolution.
The IBR (Interest-Based Relational) Approach, coined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In". The approach is meant to deal with the topic of negotiating but the approach has been applied successfully to conflict resolution. Following the 6 steps sets up the conversation to go from conflict to resolution.
IBR Approach - Six Steps
Make sure that good relationships are a priority
Ensure that everyone is committed to resolving the conflict and that establishing a good relationship is a priority. This doesn't mean that everyone has to like each other, but they do have to work together.
Separate people from problems.
Understand that the problem rests with actions of an individual and the conflict is usually coming from somewhere. There is usually a reason why someone is acting the way they are. Find out what this reason is.
Listen carefully to different interests
Spend your time listening to each side of the conflict. Rather than preparing your answer on how you are going to respond to someone, listen to what they have to say completely. Once it is your turn, you can address your side of the conflict.
Listen first, talk second
Encourage everyone to listen to each other without defending their own position. Be sure that you allow everyone to have a chance to speak before proceeding to the next step.
Set out the facts
Once everyone has had a chance to speak, you can begin to diagnose the problem together. Stay away from attacking personalities and understand that most conflict is contributed to by more than one person. Take time to review all relevant information that has been presented and decide what the facts really are. You may need some help from someone impartial to decide on these.
Explore options together
Now that everyone has agreed that the relationship is important, they have had the opportunity to speak, and you have agreed on what the problem is, you need to agree on what you are going to do to resolve this. Explore options together and review the possibilities. Collaborate on the outcomes that make sense for all sides. Make sure everyone agrees on the decision and how to move forward.
Try this out next time you experience conflict and let me know how it goes.