“When you have a conflict, that means that there are truths that have to be addressed on each side of the conflict. And when you have a conflict, then it’s an educational process to try to resolve the conflict. And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the conflict involved so that they can dialogue.” ~ Dolores Huerta
COVID-19 is forcing businesses of all types and sizes to make permanent changes. As much as many of us would like things to go back to “normal”, we are finding out that a lot of the old ways of doing things are not coming back for a while, and some will never come back at all. As a result, business owners are having to confront this realization and make adjustments to their operations based on the “new normal.”
Facemasks, distancing, sanitization, temperature checks, telecommuting, and contactless activity and interaction are some of the common elements of the post COVID-19 world we are living in, and organizations will have to figure out how to incorporate these and other changes into their operations while maintaining optimal productivity and efficiency. Implementing changes like these is sure to create conflicts among business owners, managers and supervisors, and other stakeholders.
We are obviously living in unprecedented times, and this is coupled with the unprecedented stress and stressors that everyone has to deal with. Individuals are already dealing with a lot of personal stress related to COVID-19, and then at the office, they have even more things to worry about. And when they do not see eye to eye with other associates, smaller disagreements and disputes can blow up into full-scale conflicts.
It is important to understand that although the source of a conflict might be the unprecedented global pandemic we are living in, business conflicts themselves are not unusual. In addition, these conflicts can actually become a healthy and constructive element for your business, because they often force you to confront issues that need to be dealt with and changes that need to happen. These issues will surface sooner or later, and it is always best to confront them as early as possible, so you have the time to work through them and implement the best possible solution.
The Keys to Positive Business Conflict Resolution
Conflicts can be constructive for your business, but they can also be destructive. This depends on the mindsets of those involved and how they choose to handle it. For example, a conflict in which there is a diminished level of trust among participants can develop animosities, cause communication to break down, cause other associates to take sides, reduce the exchange of ideas and information, and ultimately cause productivity to suffer.
The first step is for participants is to acknowledge that the cost of a conflict that becomes destructive and uncontrollable is far too high for everyone involved. Hopefully, there is enough goodwill that has been established between the parties over time that they know they all want what is best for the organization. They simply have a different view on how to get from here to there.
With these building blocks in place, the conflict can be resolved constructively and even creatively. When participants trust each other and they are able to engage in open dialogue, they can speak freely and let their ideas flow. This is the environment when it is most likely that they will find common ground and develop innovative solutions, solutions that will often make the organization stronger in the long run.
There are times when constructive and free-flowing dialogue is more difficult to achieve between the parties. Maybe they are just too close to the situation; maybe the parties are listening to different associates who have opposing viewpoints; or maybe they have a vested interest in doing things a certain way; or it could be a combination of these and other factors. When there are roadblocks to constructive dialogue, a third-party view can be very helpful.
One of the best ways for parties to a business conflict to gain a strong outside perspective is through business mediation. With the help of a professional, third-party mediator, participants are often able to get back on track toward a constructive dialogue that results in a win-win resolution.
The mediation process is entirely voluntary, and no agreement can be valid unless all participants agree. This allows participants to work together without the pressure of having to reach an agreement or having one imposed on them. The mediator can also offer a perspective that they would not receive from someone inside the organization, and participants might be made aware for the first time of solutions that others are using successfully to handle changes that have been necessitated by COVID-19, and effectively address any other issues they are dealing with.
AMS is Here When you Need Us
If you are a business or organization that might need some outside help resolving a conflict, AMS is here to serve your needs. Our business mediator Carmela DeNicola has worked in corporate America for several decades, and she has also spent many years owning and operating her own small business. She helped numerous businesses work through the conflicts and challenges created by the Great Recession of 2008, and she has been doing the same for those who are dealing with COVID-19 related difficulties.
We are currently offering extended hours to help accommodate schedule disruptions that have been created by the pandemic, and as the states are in the process of reopening, we can provide either in person or virtual mediation, whatever you are most comfortable with. Our initial consultations are free, and we are available to get started whenever you need us.
Contact us by phone or email for your free consultation. We look forward to serving you!