Photo of two employees resolving their conflict

How Conflict Resolution Skill Building Help Employers Tackle The BIG 3: Recruitment, Engagement, and Retention

Conflict Resolution
Written by Carol Bowser

You gotta get ‘em. You gotta engage ‘em. You gotta keep ‘em. You know what I am talking about: recruitment, engagement, and retention. The Big 3. Those 3 specktors that are on the hearts, minds, and lips of pretty much everyone.

Employees are talking about it in terms of concerns about workload, burnout, and career advancement. Employers are “fighting for top talent” and trying to keep employees content and engaged. Frankly, employers are pretty freaked out. There is some natural tension there among what employees want and what employers are willing to provide. Where there is tension there is the possibility of conflict to really mess things up.

What to do? Glad you asked. Train people on how to have conversations that will necessitate deploying conflict resolution skills. Skills like listening, questioning, exploring, problem solving, and addressing emotions.

You knew that I was going to say that right? Think of conflict resolution skills as “the skills that get, engage, and retain” talent. Conflict resolution skills are the skills that get the work done.

What do conflict resolution skills have to do with recruiting, retention and engagement?

I have heard it from clients “we want to be an employer of choice.” Great! Being an employer of choice means that employers are crafting and creating reputations. Crafting reputations through branding. Creating reputations based on employee experience. Creating reputations based on the conduct and competencies of everyone within the organization to deal with all of the stuff that naturally arises when you bring people together. Hopes. Fears. Expectations. Frustrations. Irritations. Disappointments. Celebrations.

Potential employees research employers. They look at social media. They talk to people. They look at sites like “Glassdoor” They get the “gouge” on the employer like checking out a potential person to date. They want to know how the employer/manager/lead treats people. They consider “do I want to work for these people?”
Imagine if the employer talked about how conflict resolution skills are a key part of the internal professional development program and…. wait for it … .”we actually use the skills. Our managers are not only expected to provide feedback, but are also trained on how to have and respond to difficult conversations. So when you are bringing forward ideas and concerns, we have the skills to listen and make sure we understand the concerns.” Yeah, wow.

Now that you have them, are you going to keep them?

No relationship is without disappointments and frustrations. I will tell you the vast majority of people avoid having difficult conversations because they don’t know how the other person is going to react or don’t think that talking will make any difference. Whether it is dissatisfaction with the current role or a desire for new experiences, the ability to navigate these conversations tactfully is key -no matter which side of the proverbial table you are on. Skills which enable employees, no matter the level, to coax out genuine feedback and hear it can create a working environment where people are more likely to be engaged and less likely to be looking for the door.

Ultimately, the path to becoming and staying an employer of choice involves more than attractive perks and benefits. It requires creating a reputation among current and prospective employees that the working relationships are healthy such that people want to stay.

The Big 3 : Recruitment, engagement, and retention are vital to each side of the employment relationship. Good employees want to be found, engaged, and stay as much as employers what to find, engage, and retain good employees. Train people on what are foundational conflict resolution skills and set an expectation that those skills will be used.