5 Best Practices for Managing Workplace Conflict

Best Practices | Employee Relations


Successful business strategy requires the support of an effective and productive workforce. Employers engaged in creating a motivated workforce will make significant efforts to ensure hiring decisions contribute positively to the team atmosphere. Even with the best of efforts, there will be times when personality conflicts arise.

What can HR do to Best Manage Workplace Conflict?

The difference between a positive working environment and one riddled with internal discord is palpable. When internal conflicts arise or morale dips occur, it falls to HR to take corrective actions, thereby supporting a return to smooth operations. Human Resources must walk a delicate balance between supporting a positive working environment and becoming too involved in disputes.

Allowing internal conflict to fester is never a good idea. An issue that may have initially started out as minor, can develop into a destructive and disruptive daily atmosphere. Over time, morale suffers and turnover becomes a risk. I have learned in many years of refereeing employee conflict that getting to issues quickly and encouraging honest communication focused towards resolution is key.

5 Best Practices for Managing Workplace Conflict

  1. Help managers manage. Provide training on conflict resolution that managers can implement when needed.
  2. Create dialogue around emotional intelligence. Employees look to their leaders for what constitutes appropriate behavior. Modeling emotionally mature behavior sets the right example.
  3. Find opportunity in day to day activities. HR regularly interacts with staff. Use that time to check in with employees.
  4. Set boundaries. Good behavior is an expectation and employees that can’t comply must face consequences.
  5. Open door policy. Work towards a culture of open and honest communication.

Getting in front of possible conflict by creating, encouraging and modeling desirable behavior when facing conflict will go a long way in keeping everyone focused on their work and contribution to business goals. Human Resources must champion these efforts and emphasize positive communication at all levels in an organization.