Blog & Company News
Jun 14, 2011
Why You Need a Conflict-Resolution Process
[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="425" caption="Implement a conflict-resolution process"]
Most business owners have occasional conflicts with their partners, suppliers, employees, or customers. It’s part of doing business. What’s important is that business owners solve these issues without excessively burdening their businesses.
When first asked how to handle a business conflict, some people might think that litigation is the answer. Wrong. In this day and age, with high litigation costs and lengthy litigation processes, there are other avenues to pursue before going to the courts.
To minimize costs, time, and overall hassle, small-business owners should learn conflict-management techniques as well as learn how to access cheap, and sometimes free, legal mediation.
First and foremost, business owners need to take the time to think about what sorts of conflicts generally arise within their business models. Business owners might think about what would happen if customers were dissatisfied or employees didn’t think they were being treated fairly.
A conflict-management process makes dealing with conflicts internally or with mediation successful. The fact that there is a process in place to deal with such conflicts puts the parties at ease, because they know they will be heard. The interests of the business owners as well as those of the partners, suppliers, employees, or customers are likely to be acknowledged.
Not only does a conflict-management process allow parties to address their specific motivations and needs; it also allows for parties to consider creative and alternative solutions. If the process allows for fair treatment and consideration of what really matters, people will most likely be happy with the outcome.
Customers are No. 1, especially with small businesses. Therefore, make sure you treat customers with utmost respect, and manage any emotions that may develop during the conflict. Emotions could get in the way and prevent a positive outcome for all parties. Remember: You are dealing with a business conflict. It’s just that—business. Keep it that way.
Also, keep in mind why the conflict has arisen and what the parties want to accomplish. Focusing on these topics will lead to a more satisfying solution.
A conflict-management process can take various forms. The most basic form is a customer survey with questions about the business and its products or services. If a customer gives your business a bad review, you can call the customer. A simple phone call can go a long way, because it lets the customer know you’re thinking about him and his concerns.
If the problem is bigger, you might want to set up a meeting or even mediation.
For more about the “how” of conflict management, check out “How to Foster Healthy Conflict
” at Forbes.com.