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HR And Conflict Management

Even if it relies on peaceful social dialogue and a caring working environment, the company is a place conducive to the occurrence of conflicts:

  • Working in a team
  • Confronting impatient customers
  • Demand pending on a demanding hierarchy
  • All factors conflict with business

Finally, in a socially tense ambient climate, employee anger can erupt and crystallize into a social conflict. When it comes to conflict management, HR departments are in charge of identifying different types of conflicts.

Business Conflicts: 3 Primary Sources

Most conflicts in businesses find their explanation in one of the following four main typologies.

Personal Conflicts Or Interpersonal Conflicts

  • They result from a frank antipathy to a situation of competition, of incomprehension
  • They are caused by motives linked to others, to oneself, and the environment.

Conflicts of power or conflicts of ideas: they are expressed when each party wishes to establish or even develop the influence it exercises or when each party defends ideas and opinions seen as opposed.

Economic Conflicts Or Conflicts Of Interest

  • They appear when it comes to negotiating new financial or human resources and when there is a divergence in the interests of each party.
  • We will find, in particular, social conflicts motivated by demands linked to remuneration, reorganizations, etc.

Hierarchical Conflicts Or Positional Conflicts

  • They are established between one or more employees and their local manager
  • They manifest themselves by doubting the mutual capacities and skills of each party and can be perceived as harassment.

HR Objectives In Conflict Management

HR Departments pursue two primary objectives in terms of conflict management:

  • Consider conflict as a risk: how to detect the emergence of a conflict, how to minimize its occurrence
  • Recognize a conflict situation to support its resolution better or to contribute to overcoming the crisis.

To achieve these objectives, they prepare and implement different strategies and actions.

Anticipation: Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Considering conflicts as a risk allows HR to implement a proven method of handling risks:

  • Actions whose objective is to limit the occurrence of conflicts: development and implementation of a conflict prevention program
  • Actions for handling conflicts once they appear: precise procedures are described and immediately available to resolve each of the identified risks.

Preserving a peaceful work environment helps reduce the emergence of conflicts. Obtaining such an environment involves:

  • Maintaining and strengthening social dialogue: information, exchanges, and negotiations within the framework of the CSE, respect for everyone’s ideas, and support for local management
  • The implementation of initiatives linked to improving the quality of life at work
  • Training of employees and managers: awareness sessions to identify warning signs of conflict, associated with teaching techniques to deal with them before they escalate
  • The establishment of social observatories: The reporting of alerts in the form of indicators and dashboards from an HR information system (HRIS) makes it possible to distinguish conflicts very early on in the crystallization and development phase. Apply corrective measures…

Mediation: Supporting The Resolution And Raising The Bar

When a conflict materializes, and those involved cannot resolve it, HR plays a mediating role:

  • They facilitate the resumption of a beneficial dialogue by seeking to understand and making each party recognize the sources of the dispute.
  • They suggest possible solutions to end the conflict without necessarily requiring concessions.
  • They can, however, act as judges and impose an outcome, their objective being that the situation does not persist.
  • These mediation approaches do not provide keys to the actors concerned to avoid future escalations of conflict.

Negotiation: HR At The Heart Of The Action

When a conflict, by its nature or the number of employees concerned, reaches the status of social strife, only HR Departments are able to resolve it. Alongside the claimant group, they represent the other key players in the resolution of the conflict. They lead the negotiations while respecting three key points:

  • Consultation: this involves understanding the reasons for the conflict, the nature of the demands, and defining a negotiation method
  • Confrontation: this phase allows each party to express its arguments and for both parties to highlight points of agreement, note disagreements, and delimit areas of negotiation
  • Conciliation: it involves getting out of the crisis by coming together on a realistic agreement.

As we see, companies are human societies; they are the place of conflicts between employees or groups with divergent interests. More or less important, more or less extensive, more or less blocking, conflicts are always the manifestation of a failure. HR Departments have tools and implement preventive actions to limit the occurrence of conflicts. But when conflict arises, they know how to position themselves as arbiters or negotiators.

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