Small business managers and owners are responsible for helping to mediate conflicts that occur in the workplace. A savvy supervisor conducts effective sessions in which disputes are addressed and resolved. Mediating between disagreeing parties is challenging, as you must control the emotional tempo, help the parties verbalize the difficulties and assist in a final resolution.

Set Ground Rules

Set specific regulations for how the conflict resolution meeting will be handled. Determine you will listen without prejudice to your employees' concerns and the accounts of their conflicts. Tell employees you expect the same consideration from them. Ground rules should include listening without interrupting, no shouting or personal insults and a focus on facts rather than assumptions. Tell the employees to take a breather if they become overly emotional or angry while recalling conflicts. Tell them you will help mediate the conflict resolution process, but they must do their parts in solving their problem.


Allow each person to state his version of the conflict. Ask each participant to focus on exactly what happened. Take notes while they speak so you will not have to rely on your memory when reviewing testimonies. Repeat what is said for clarity after listening to the accounts. Address inconsistencies or conflicting information by asking questions. For example, if one person asserts the other failed to clean her work station but the other party insists she attended to it, you either have a difference of opinion regarding what degree of cleaning is necessary or one person is not telling the truth about the situation. Ask for specific details so you can give knowledgeable feedback.

Common Ground

Find common ground on which everyone can agree. This gives a positive start to the difficult process of finding a solution that is workable for everyone. You could all agree, first, that both parties want to work in a congenial environment. From here, get more specific information regarding what each party believes needs to happen to improve relations so the atmosphere is friendlier and more conducive for work.

Group Work

Work together as a team to resolve the conflict. Brainstorm solutions to the problem. Write down the ideas and weigh the pros and cons of each solution. Ask employees to look for compromises when it is necessary for peace. For instance, two workers who accuse each other of causing work interruptions could decide to move to different areas of the facility, or they could agree to allow management to address issues such as too many emails or too frequent breaks made by employees. Ask the workers to agree that all parties will move forward once a consensus is reached. Instruct employees not to rehash old matters in their future interactions with one another.