In organizations large enough to have their own HR department, most employees are not aware of all the responsibilities that you must handle in an HR job.
Most employees only interact with HR when they are being hired or when they experience a problem with benefits or payroll or an interpersonal conflict with a supervisor. The easiest parts of your job are the parts where you get to celebrate happy occasions, such as hiring a new employee at his or her first full-time job or adding an employee’s newborn baby to the employee’s health insurance policy. The hardest parts involve managing conflict.
Conflict management training is not a standard part of most college degree programs, although perhaps it should be. Meanwhile, conflict resolution is an important part of your job in HR, whether the job ad you answered when you applied for your job said so in so many words or not.
Many HR professionals feel unprepared to respond to conflict that arises among the employees of their organizations. By providing conflict resolution training, leaders in the organization can make life less stressful for HR employees and everyone else in the organization by streamlining the conflict resolution process.
HR Professionals Are the Unsung Heroes of the Workplace
When you work in the HR department, it is your responsibility to solve almost any problem that arises, if that problem affects one or more employees. Emotional intelligence and active listening are important job skills for an HR employee.
You must use effective communication both when dealing directly with employees and when working behind the scenes to resolve the problems with which the employees have sought your help. You are the one who must have challenging conversations with employees when you cannot get them the desired outcome.
People do not typically thank HR employees when things go smoothly at work, much as people do not thank their white blood cells when they do not have a cold. As soon as something goes wrong, though, employees come running to HR in person or contact you online or by phone. Even when a conflict does not involve direct reports sent to the HR office, you must still take a role in the problem-solving process.
Many HR Employees Are Out of Their Depth When It Comes to Conflict Management
All of these problem-solving responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming. As stressful as your job can be when things are generally going well at your company, it is worse when the company is experiencing financial troubles or when the company culture is such that many employees are dissatisfied.
As much as you may pride yourself on your openness to listening to different perspectives, simply being an emotionally intelligent person is not enough to prepare you to deal with all the different styles of conflict that you will encounter in your workplace.
Insufficient institutional support is one of the most common causes of high employee turnover in the workplace. HR employees can fall victim to this trend, too. The more the organization supports the employees in their efforts to build conflict management skills, the more confidence they will have when managing workplace conflict. Conflict training for HR employees can improve job satisfaction at your company in the HR office and beyond.
Which Conflict Management Skills Do HR Employees Need to Learn?
Conflict management training can help HR employees respond effectively to the many types of conflict that can arise in a workplace. They can benefit from learning to resolve conflicts with the co-workers with whom they interact on the HR team.
Conflict resolution training can also help the HR team mediate disputes where the parties belong to teams other than HR. At best, conflict resolution training for HR employees can improve employee retention, reduce unresolved conflict among employees, and even prevent lawsuits against the company.
Many of the issues that employees come to HR to address are the result of simple misunderstandings. Often, an employee simply did not know what to do to enroll in a benefit program, for example.
Of course, this information often occurs in the fine print of hiring paperwork or in email blasts that are so frequent that, eventually, employees get into the habit of deleting them without even reading them.
When a conflict occurs because of a misunderstanding, clear communication is the solution. Through conflict resolution training, HR employees can learn to manage conflict just by slowing down and communicating calmly and effectively. The first step is active listening to find out how the employee perceives the situation.
Next, the HR professional should concisely explain what the employee should do without making it sound like the HR professional is judging the employee or blaming the employee for the conflict.
Improved communication is one of the skills needed in customer service, but this type of communication is rarely part of the training that members of the HR team receive when starting their jobs. If you can resolve the simplest conflicts by talking directly with the person who complained, you can solve many of them. By doing so, you can avoid the negative effects of having to involve managers in the dispute resolution process.
When HR employees are empowered to identify problems in a given situation and address them directly, they can stop simple conflicts from escalating into complex, costly ones. This is better for the company’s productivity because no one except the HR employee originally tasked with the problem must focus on it.
Employees contact HR when their emotions get to the critical point where they can no longer tolerate the situation. When angry employees enter the HR office, seeking a resolution to the present problem is not the first thing on their minds, and they are not necessarily in the mood to identify the root cause of the conflict.
Of course, there may be other factors that led the employee to choose today to contact you, but before you can get down to the business of resolving the conflict, first you must deal with the emotions of the person in front of you. In other words, you must de-escalate the conflict before you resolve it.
De-escalation is an important aspect of conflict management, and it is a prerequisite to conflict resolution properly. One of the most popular approaches to de-escalation is the HEARD method.
HEARD is an acronym for hear, empathize, apologize, resolve, diagnose. In other words, you should listen to what the employee has to say and acknowledge the employee’s emotions before you start problem-solving or assigning blame. If you do not, the conflict will probably get worse.
Managers often learn about the different conflict styles when they are studying management in college, but HR workers do not get to study this in detail; meanwhile, the responsibility falls on HR professionals to resolve conflict.
The five modes of conflict management are accommodating, avoiding, competing, compromising, and collaborating. One of these styles is not, by itself, better than another. It is more important to choose the best course of action based on factors such as the goals your team is trying to achieve and the relationships you are trying to create by resolving the present disputes.
The Mediation Process
Mediation is not technically part of your job description in HR. In fact, you might even argue that it is above your pay grade. Mediation can sometimes be more effective if done by members of the HR team instead of by leaders within the company.
For example, the parties to the conflict might feel more comfortable with a mediator they can see as a peer instead of a C-suite mediator with an expense account and copious paid vacation time. HR workers can learn effective communication and mediation skills to help them manage conflict among members of other teams in the company.
How Does Conflict Management Training Work?
Almost everyone who works in HR could benefit from participating in a training course on managing conflict in the workplace. Courses are available in person and online to help HR managers and members of the HR team focus on building their conflict management skills.
Participants in these training courses will learn to identify the various sources of conflict and their negative effects on workplace productivity. They will gain an understanding of conflict psychology and learn how to create an environment that is conducive to good relationships among members of the same team at work.
They will find out the various ways that parties to a conflict go about resolving conflict. Conflict resolution training that is specific to a work environment also teaches you about the roles that managers play in resolving conflicts in the workplace, even if you are not a manager.
Online Courses for Managing Conflict in the Workplace
If your HR team is already swamped with work, online training might be the best conflict resolution training. Online courses on conflict management training are available in synchronous and asynchronous formats to accommodate the busy schedules of HR professionals.
You can even find conflict resolution courses in hybrid formats, where some of the instruction takes place online, but the training course also involves some face-to-face meetings. Courses with a face-to-face component are especially good at building relationships among participants.
Which Conflict Resolution Training Is Best for HR?
The format of the conflict resolution training course is not the part that matters the most. You can learn about conflict resolution whether you are working one-on-one with a coach or whether you are part of a big group. It is also possible to learn conflict resolution whether you are sitting at a table sharing pizza with co-workers or whether you are at home eating potato chips in front of your computer as you watch the training modules.
The most important thing is that the training addresses the specific types of conflicts that arise in your workplace and which people in your role are responsible for addressing. Managers must identify a certain type of conflict and deal with high-level dispute resolution, whereas customer service representatives have a completely different experience with conflicts in the workplace.
The best conflict resolution course for HR workers is one that was made specifically for HR workers and addresses the conflict resolution situations that they encounter frequently at work.
Contact Resolve About HR Conflict Resolution Training
The HR team at your workplace can become the next to learn about conflict resolution from the workplace conflict experts at Resolve Conflict Resolution Training. Our satisfied customers include managers, customer service representatives, and many others who have learned how to manage conflict in the workplace through our courses.
HR is often the first point of contact for addressing a conflict, so HR managers need this training most of all though it will be extremely beneficial to all HR employees. Contact us today to find out more about how your HR department can learn to be better managers of conflict in the workplace.