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CareerWhile driving to work one day, one of my colleagues rear-ended a car. As it turned out, the driver of the other car is now her husband! This is a case where a conflict was amicably resolved and led to a mutually beneficial outcome. Although most workplace conflicts may not have as happy an ending as this one, if resolved effectively, they can lead to improved productivity.

If you are a line manager here is how you can resolve conflicts effectively:

Identify the cause. Uncovering and understanding where the conflict is stemming from is a crucial first step towards resolving it. For example, if you notice that two of your team members are making a conscious effort to avoid each other, treat this in the same way as you would if they were arguing loudly in public or refused to work with each other. Discreetly bring them together to ‘talk it out’ in an informal setting such as lunch; this can help you find the root cause of the conflict and maybe resolve it.

Assume responsibility for resolution. If an informal lunch does not lead to a resolution, take control by implementing a clear action plan to resolve it. You can either act as the moderator yourself, or appoint an impartial mediator to minimise the chances of personal biases creeping in. This will ensure that the process remains transparent.

Resolve effectively. Remember to establish the ground rules to ensure that the people concerned have a fair chance to air their grievances. As people are usually reluctant to speak up about their problems in front of others, ask a few ice-breaking questions to get the ‘resolution ball’ rolling. Remember to maintain composure; raised voices and heated arguments are not conducive to a productive resolution. Remember to be the voice of reason and keep your employees calm.

– Arshia Wasif Ahmed
The writer is a corporate trainer.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 12, 2015.