It is essential when handling conflict situations to withhold judgement and not offer advice, this will ensure that you are not drawn into the conflict and remain neutral. Each person involved should be interviewed separately to determine his or her perception of the situation. Once this has been done, bring the parties together and outline the situation as you see it and the standpoint of each of them.
Check that you have understood correctly. Very often this process will reveal misconceptions or misunderstandings that were the root of the problem and a solution can be reached.
However, should there not agreement at this point regarding a solution, attempt to reach full agreement as to the real nature of the problem. It is important to establish, at this point, that the only solution that will work effectively is one where each person involved feels satisfied and has their needs met.
Facilitate the generation of creative solutions. Brainstorming is an excellent technique to use here. In fact the involving nature of this process can often bring participants closer together. Once idea generation has been exhausted, any ideas that are not acceptable to either party should be eliminated. Identify solutions that are acceptable to all and decide on the best. At this stage ensure that commitment to the solution and any necessary action is obtained.
The above processes may need to be repeated if a solution is not obtained at this stage, in any event follow-up meetings should be arranged to check on progress.
The leader’s role in conflict handling is not so much a matter of following a mechanical process but more one of using personal power coupled with integrity which generates trust to facilitate an equitable solution.