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How to manage conflict in small business

By greytHR
April 04, 2014


Even if your business picked up the most suitable people, conflict is expected and natural in any industry. It is said that business managers spend 40% of their time and HR folks spend 25 to 60 percent managing disputes and conflicts.

In a small business, conflicts stare in your face since fewer people and smaller spaces.

There are quite a few practical strategies to manage conflicts in a small business.

  • Avoid the situation and leave it to chance. However, this must be done with smaller conflicts.
  • Accommodate similarities or commonalities between the parties involved to calm them down
  • Collaborate by making the parties come together, understand the problem and give their solutions
  • Compromise by making the parties concerned to strike up a give-and-take deal where each party gets to sacrifice as well as gain
  • Confront the conflicting parties. That is a straight-forward no-string-attached kind of approach to conflict management in which the manager gets to the point of facts directly and handles the situation.

Follow the basics

If a small business manager is clueless or has no prior experience in conflict management, he/she can follow the most basic principles suggested by experts to resolve conflicts.

Devise a conceptual strategy

Conflict is an extreme human reaction, and hence it cannot be handled through a planned format. However, a small business can enforce strategy to handle conflicts and guide issue resolution initially, and avoid disputes. HR can enable an online help-desk to collect and address various employee issues and leave no space for more troubles.

Implement a language code

Conflicts between two people also have damaging effects on the overall work environment. Include a legend in the HR policies about using the most impersonal and polite language in the work premises. Discourage people to use abusive language in the office environment by penalizing and set a great example of honest communication.

Be specific

While resolving a conflict, do not leave room for ambiguity. Understand that disputes arising out of misunderstandings. HR or mediator or manager can hear both the parties before arriving at a pact. They should also have a clear understanding of the next set of instructions or the best available solution.

Never ignore the intention

While managing a conflict, make sure to understand each person's preferences. Several times, you will realize that a specific employee did something in the interest of a person, business, or customer. So address the intention as much as the act.

Just a positive approach towards conflicts can result in the formulation of effective strategies.


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