It’s not unusual for conflicts to occur in business, but they often escalate to unnecessary levels. When you don’t have access to appropriate conflict resolution resources, you can spend more time and energy resolving disputes.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure business conflicts can be resolved swiftly, cost-effectively, and even amicably.
Remember – business conflicts occur in-house and externally. If an employee is unhappy, for example, it’s essential to have appropriate channels in place to resolve these types of conflicts.
Similarly, if a dispute arises with a supplier, competitor, client, or even a customer, you’ll need to have access to a range of resolution techniques.
Companies can spend an inordinate amount of money resolving conflicts but there are better ways to resolve your disputes. If you want to overcome conflict quickly and easily, take a look at the tools that will help you:
A well-drafted contract should always include clauses relating to potential disputes. Instead of assuming that disputes won’t arise, assume they will and cater to them.
By including the method of conflict resolution to be used in a contract, you can ensure that you’ll have access to cost-effective dispute resolution methods, should you need to use them.
Many forms of conflict resolution are voluntary, so you’ll only have access to them if both parties agree to try them. By incorporating them into a contract, you can ensure that you can use the fastest and cheapest methods to resolve conflicts if they arise.
Furthermore, a comprehensive contract can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. When your contract covers every eventuality, for example, you have a written agreement that can be referred to when disagreements start to appear.
This is a great way for businesses to avoid potential disputes and ensure that their interests are protected at all times.
#2 Complaints Procedures
When a client or customer isn’t happy with a service or product they’ve received, they may want to make a formal complaint.
By having an established complaints process, you can ensure that their concerns are listened to and acted upon. This often prevents them from taking matters further and enables you to resolve issues informally.
As well as having a complaints procedure to deal with external complaints from clients or customers, you should also have an internal process that allows employees to raise issues. Sometimes known as a grievance procedure, this ensures you’re fulfilling your legal obligations as an employer and gives employees a channel to raise important issues.
As a business and as an employer, there are certain legal responsibilities you’ll need to fulfill. In many cases, your complaints and grievance procedures will incorporate these. If a customer has a right to request a refund, for example, your complaints procedure will need to include this as a potential remedy.
Delivering great customer service and cultivating a happy workforce benefits your business in numerous ways, so don’t view complaints or grievances in a negative light. Instead, look at them as a way to improve your operations and turn a negative situation into a positive one.
As a form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation can save you the time, expense, and hassle of going to court. However, there are various types of alternative dispute resolution, so it’s important to know the difference between FINRA arbitration and mediation.
Once you know how each method of conflict resolution works, you can choose the right option for you.
Mediation is a voluntary process, so both parties will need to agree to take part. Despite this, mediation is often successful and can be a way to agree to a settlement without litigation. What’s more – the mediation process is less formal than other forms of dispute resolution, which means it can be completed more quickly.
If you choose to take part in mediation, an impartial mediator will be appointed to help you come to a solution. By understanding both party’s position, the mediator can assist in helping the two parties reach a settlement that’s mutually agreeable.
Unlike some other forms of conflict resolution, mediation is collaborative, rather than adversarial. This means it’s a great option for disputes between parties who may want to continue working together in the future.
If you have a disagreement with a long-term supplier, for example, reaching an amicable solution via mediation can enable you to continue working with one another.
Although mediation is successful in the majority of instances, if you are unable to come to an agreement via mediation or if one party wishes to stop the process, you will have recourse to other avenues.
This enables you to use mediation in the hope of resolving a dispute quickly and amicably, while having peace of mind that you can rely on other forms of conflict resolution, like arbitration, if the process fails.
Like mediation, arbitration is a form of dispute resolution that means you can avoid going to court and litigating. However, arbitration is more formal than mediation and is adversarial in nature.
A neutral arbitrator is appointed but parties may decide to appoint a legal representative too.
Although the arbitrator won’t make a ruling, they will issue a decision – known as an award – at the culmination of the process. This award is final and binding on both parties, so you can be confident that arbitration will fully resolve any disputes or conflicts.
There are many advantages associated with the arbitration, particularly in comparison to litigation. The arbitration process is typically cheaper, faster, and less complicated than taking a matter to court, for example.
Additionally, only the outcome of an arbitration award is made public, which ensures you can keep business matters confidential. In contrast, litigation is typically public, which means the details of your dispute will be widely known.
Although businesses rarely want to litigate, it does remain an option if a conflict is on-going. If you’ve been unable to come to an agreement via mediation, for example, you may decide to go to court to have the matter resolved.
If so, your case will be heard by a judge who will make a firm ruling about how the matter is to be resolved. One party may need to pay damages to the other, for example.
However, litigation can be extremely expensive, particularly in complex cases. Furthermore, the losing party is often required to pay the winner’s legal costs, so you risk a significant bill if things don’t go your way.
In addition to this, taking a case to court can take years, particularly if numerous hearings are required or if the decision is appealed. Due to this, many businesses view it is as a last resort when it comes to conflict resolution.
#6 Managing Business Conflicts
When your business is involved in a dispute, it can be an extremely stressful time. If your reputation is called into question, for example, you may be worried about the impact the dispute could have on your commercial performance.
Although it’s common for conflicts to arise, it’s important to resolve them as quickly as possible, so that your business isn’t sullied by the dispute.
First and foremost, you’ll want to get legal advice to determine what your rights are. If you don’t have an in-house legal department, you’ll want to find a lawyer who has expertise and experience in business conflicts.
You’ll find that some legal professionals specialize in certain types of business disputes or specific sectors, so seeking advice from a specialist may stand you in good stead.
Once you know what your rights are, you’ll be able to make informed decisions regarding how to manage the conflict.
Whether you decide to resolve a dispute informally via mediation, with the arbitration, or by going to court, you’ll need to gauge which options work best for your business.
#7 Moving on from Disputes
When a dispute arises, how you choose to handle it could have a long-term impact on your operations. If you have a conflict with a longstanding client, for example, you may need to weigh up whether it’s worth losing them as a client, even if you feel they are in the wrong.
In some cases, it may make more business sense to agree to a settlement in order to resolve a dispute amicably than to escalate the conflict.
Inevitably, some disputes are always adversarial and bring about the end of a commercial relationship. In such cases, you’ll want to take steps to ensure your business can continue to operate profitably, despite the conflict.
If a disagreement means you no longer want to work with a specific supplier, for example, you’ll need to find an alternative company to partner with. Depending on your industry, this can take a substantial amount of time, which is why it’s important to consistently expand your network.
Although no-one wants to deal with business disputes, they do happen from time-to-time. By acknowledging that you’re likely to experience conflict at some time or another, you can take steps to ensure that your business is well-equipped to deal with disputes in the most effective way possible.