Working remotely does not mean all is Kumbaya. A recent Paychex study reported that two thirds of us have experienced conflict while working remotely. Conflict is a gateway to discovery. It’s the noise that reveals that there may be people and or process issues that require exploration and resolution. That being said there are a couple of strategies that HR leaders can practice and teach to manage conflict. The first is conversational receptiveness. Listen to understand. Practice looping. Repeat what the person has just said in a way that acknowledges your understanding. The goal is not to have others align with your thinking. The goal is to recognize the other person’s views on values, tasks or relationships, respect them, and work to mutually arrive at a common middle ground to move forward. Seek to discover points of agreement.
In instances of active argument or employee complaint remember, as the HR leader, that you must act as a bridge. Again, practice looping for team members who are in conflict. Reiterate what was said, and ask if you are accurate. Respect the privacy of those involved and their colleagues by explaining you will be speaking with them privately. If necessary, state your intention to the group at large. Use a calm friendly tone. Internally, you should feel calm. Working to resolve conflict is necessary and productive and leads to growth and your tone should convey that. If you convey tension, it only escalates the situation. Ask those involved in the conflict what they want you to know. If you can’t retain the details that each person shares, write them down. The goal you are after will reveal itself in the content shared. Keep it in mind. Ask each person their solution to the conflict. Communicate that you expect solution from them. When people realize that you believe they have the capacity to discovery an answer, they deliver.