Whenever there are unresolved conflicts in the workplace, it eventually affects the external stakeholders, employees, and managers. Workplace conflicts must be handled quickly and effectively. In some cases, this can be challenging because most people simply want to sweep the problem under the rug so that they can get on with work. This can sometimes lead to ethical issues arising with the handling of conflicts. We wouldn’t advise you to do this, as sweeping the issues away usually makes the situation worse.

When Does an Ethical Conflict Occur?

There may be ethical conflicts between the stakeholder and the customers. As an example, suppose a company wants to increase production and they start to neglect the quality of the product. With the decreased quality of the product customers see that the product they have relied on is no longer reliable. The customers in turn believe that the company is acting unethically, taking advantage of their reputation and misleading customers. The customers then start to lose faith in the company.

An ethical conflict can also occur when there is a disagreement between employees. This can happen if two employees are up for a promotion and both employees take credit for work done. There is a fine line of how far the employees may go to convince the superior that their work is better than that of their co-worker. They may cross an ethical line in this behavior. Setting up a competitive situation like this could even lead to potential sabotage of a co-worker’s work to allow the saboteur to look better in comparison.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Process

Ethical differences are not always clear and wrong versus right. Effectively dealing with ethical workplace conflicts is a balancing of the interests of all of the parties involved. Both employees may have a right to the promotion based on their work performance, however; only one person can receive it. When this occurs, the decision-maker will have to use proven effective methods for dealing with ethical workplace disputes.

Here are some questions managers may want to ask themselves:

• Which of the employees will be most likely to set goals that are in line with the objectives of management?
• Which one can effectively work alongside stakeholders, suppliers, customers and other important business entities?
• Which employee would other employees see as an effective leader?
• Which employee has the most respect among the other employees and which will they tend to follow?
• Which employee will be more inclined to establish ethical standards from the start?
• Which employee has the most leadership potential?

The best way to deal with a conflict at work is to make sure that you can prevent them from occurring. This requires that you have a defined set of core values; code of ethics; ethical leadership, and strong compliance participation. When disagreements or conflicts do occur, there should be a clear process in place to effectively resolve the situation.

Here are some things to remember:

1. Identify the conflict
2. Identify and consider possible ways to resolve the matter
3. Get help from someone else if you are unable to effectively resolve the matter
4. Decide what is to be done and stick by your decision

Alternative Dispute Resolution Training

Conflict resolution of any type but especially in the workplace can be difficult and exhausting. However, dealing with difficult people and having difficult conversations is part of the alternative dispute resolution process. Training is essential to ensuring that you know how to deal with these issues as they arise, make a effective plans and follow through on them.

The Stitt Feld Handy Group provides three levels of conflict resolution training and many customized options.