Conflict Resolution Strategies to Improve Retention
Step Up Recruiting improves your employee retention by finding candidates who are the best possible fit for your corporate culture and the open position, and we are experts at onboarding and initial support for our candidates after they become new hires. However, we recognize that you also want to retain the great employees you have now, as higher retention has a positive effect on morale and productivity.
Here are a few conflict resolution strategies to improve retention:
- Educate. Encourage or provide conflict resolution skills in your team leaders and management. As much as most of us dread dealing with “personality clashes”, conflict resolution is simply a part of management. Training ensures that your team leaders and managers are well-equipped to handle the vast majority of conflicts, and can better understand which issues need to be sent to HR.
- Practice. From role-playing to having inexperienced leaders shadowing the more experienced, make sure your organizational leaders have practiced conflict resolution skills so they can evaluate, de-escalate, and resolve these issues.
- Empower. Give your team leaders and managers the power to resolve most conflicts, and encourage them to submit the issues they feel unable to resolve on their own to mediation, either internal (such as HR or upper management) or giving them access to a third-party resource. Once you have educated and experienced leaders who are comfortable with conflict resolution, trust their training and experience.
- Separate conflicts into productive or destructive categories. Productive conflicts can happen when divisions compete to resolve an issue or improve a process, or when individuals passionately advocate for different solutions, proposals, or choices. These positive conflicts may cause some short-term distress, but they are ultimately healthy for both your teams and the organization as a whole. They stem from committed, engaged employees; always a good thing! Destructive conflicts cause long-term distress and frustration and cause disruption in productivity and morale. They are most often rooted in the personal, be it personalities, egos, or simply becoming “stuck” in the habit of an oppositional stance that may have begun as a productive conflict that was poorly resolved.
- Concentrate on reducing and resolving only the destructive conflicts. The positive conflicts are normally self-limiting and ultimately beneficial.
- Identify conflicts resulting from intolerable behaviors. These are conflicts stemming from sexual harassment, bullying, racial bias, theft, violence and other unacceptable actions and should be dealt with by HR, according to your organizational guidelines. It’s important to make identifying these conflicts a priority, as they can cause a hostile workplace for multiple employees, even those who are bystanders and not directly affected.
- Listen. Bring the conflicted employees or representatives of conflicted teams together in a conference room or other space that allows reasonable privacy, and encourage them to state the problem as they see it. Make sure to enforce rules, which can be as simple as requesting calm voices and limiting descriptors to business language only. For minor conflicts, simply allowing the parties to air their grievances goes a long way.
- Mirror. After both parties have spoken, restate both sides of the issue, simply and without emotion. Ask each party if the problem was fairly and completely summarized, and repeat until both parties agree that you understand the issue.
- Ask. Ask each of the employees what solution they would recommend for this conflict. Once they have stated their preferred solutions, ask for their evaluation of the other party’s solution. Then ask if they can agree on a compromise resolution. Surprisingly, after stating the problem, hearing the other side, and suggesting resolutions, much of the personal investment will have left the argument, and the conflict appears smaller and more resolvable to everyone. Your conflicted parties may well arrive at their own solution here.
- Resolve it. At this point, if the conflict has a resolution, your educated and experienced company leader can probably see it. Whether it is simply choosing a suggested resolution or a creative solution the conflicted parties haven’t thought of, the vast majority of conflicts end here.
- Send it to mediation. If the conflict involves a decision above the management level of the leader (such as defining a fuzzy point of company policy), or de-escalation simply didn’t work and there’s no resolution in sight, send the parties to your organization’s version of mediation. This can be HR, upper management, or an outside resource. Mediation must be voluntary and the results final.
We hope these conflict resolutions strategies improve retention and preserve productivity. Step Up Recruiting sees client success as our success!