One of the most proactive steps you can take as a manager is to make use of conflict-resolution trainings for yourself and for your staff. Look for existing trainings to send one or more of your employees to, or look for a trainer who can customize a course specifically for your needs.
Common training topics include but certainly aren’t limited to
Improving communication skills
Working with different personality styles
Holding successful one-on-one conflict conversations
Holding successful group meetings
Dealing with angry co-workers or clients
Managing workplace violence
Conflict coaching, which involves an employee meeting with a conflict coach or mediator, allows the person a chance to work through a particular conflict in a productive manner. Coaching helps her gain a better understanding of the situation and her role in the conflict, as well as the encouragement to brainstorm or consider different courses of action. This approach is also useful in helping the employee learn and test out new ways of reacting and interacting with her co-workers.
Because conflict coaching is often paired with mediation and a mediator may provide both services, consider negotiating both when you’re hiring an expert. Coaches may offer their services on a per-session or per-hour basis.
Mediation is an ever-evolving field of practice in which two or more people in a dispute sit down with an impartial facilitator to discuss a conflict and brainstorm mutually agreeable solutions. No one wants to see a dispute mutate into a three-headed, fire-breathing beast, so addressing and resolving a conflict early with a mediator can save you and the company a lot of pain, suffering, and money down the line.
Facilitation is a process used with larger groups of employees, usually when the whole team is affected by an event or conflict. The meetings are an opportunity to bring everyone together and address the problems. They allow everyone the chance to define issues, share information, and brainstorm.
The structure of the facilitation and the methods used by the facilitator will vary depending on the professional’s experience, his process, and the kind of conflict you need addressed. It could include one or more large-group meetings or a combination of large- and small-group meetings.