As a manager and leader who is trained in conflict management, you will be responsible for handling issues with staff, which often involves mediating any disputes that occur between employees. Being able to handle conflicts on the job is essential to keeping the workplace as productive as possible. Effective conflict resolution also is important for retaining the best staff in various departments.
Many human resources managers specifically are highly trained in conflict resolution. Human resources managers are needed to attract, motivate and keep the best employees for their jobs. By learning how to work effectively on disputes between workers, it is possible to achieve the best possible results in the workplace in terms of profits, job satisfaction and productivity.
Another field where conflict resolution comes into play heavily is working as an arbitrator, mediator or conciliator. Most arbitrators are attorneys, so a law degree is required for that field. But mediators and conciliators can have a background in conflict resolution and management. They are neutral parties who help people in workplaces to resolve disputes. A mediator does not render a binding decision, whereas a conciliator does.
What Is Conflict Resolution?
Conflict in the workplace will happen no matter where you are, as employees have different personalities, goals and views. Workers in different departments also have various perspectives that can lead to workplace disagreements. To be a successful manager or supervisor, it is important to have skills in conflict resolution. Resolving conflicts in the workplace involves the following items:
- Identify what the source of the conflict is
- Look beyond the individual incident
- Ask for and work towards solutions
- Identify specific solutions that both sides can get behind
- Get to an agreement
On a related note is the concept of mediation. Mediation is similar to conflict resolution in that the mediator engages in negotiations between disputing parties. The job of the mediator is to help each side to find a solution to the dispute. Mediation can occur inside an organization; it is very common for mediation to be used to resolve a dispute between organizations, such as between a company and a contracting company.
There is a need for managers in the human resources area and other related specialties who have skills in conflict resolution. As the business world gets more competitive by the year, companies need every edge that they can get. Having a harmonious workplace where workers can get along and do their jobs well together is vital for keeping a company competitive.
Human resources managers with conflict resolution skills will see 9% job growth from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS. HR managers will be needed to effectively resolve disputes between workers, and also will be needed to keep up with the changing, complex laws surrounding employment in the US today.
Human resources and conflict resolution managers held approximately 136,000 jobs in 2016, BLS states. The largest employers of these professionals were in these areas:
- Management of enterprises and companies: 14%
- Professional, technical and scientific companies: 13%
- Manufacturing: 13%
- Government: 10%
- Social assistance and healthcare: 9%
Some of the other related positions where managers skilled in conflict resolution may work are:
- Administrative service managers
- Compensation and benefits managers
- Labor relations specialists
- Training and development managers
- Conflicts managers
- Mediators, arbitrators and conciliators
Professionals in arbitration, mediation and conciliation will see 11% job growth by 2026, which is faster than average. These workers are becoming higher in demand as it is less expensive to resolve disputes than it is to pay for litigation.
The pay for human resources and conflict resolution managers in 2016 was $106,900, with the top 10% earning $193,500 per year. Pay will vary depending upon the industry:
- Management of enterprises and companies: $121,300
- Professional, technical and scientific services: $120,800
- Manufacturing: $103,200
- Government: $95,900
- Healthcare and social assistance: $91,200
Salary.com reports that conflicts managers earn a median salary of $84,800.
Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators earned a median salary of $59,700 in 2016.
Where you have a job in conflict resolution or human resources also will affect your salary. These cities tend to have the highest salaries for human resources and related managers:
- San Jose CA: $157,900
- Philadelphia PA: $136,800
- San Francisco CA: $134,600
- Allentown PA: $134,400
- New York City: $134,200
- Washington DC: $133,000
- Denver CO: $130,000
- Durham NC: $125,900
- Boston MA: $122,100
With a degree in conflict resolution, human resources and related fields, you will have the skills to do well in most industries. Some of the top employers to consider in this field in terms of innovation in the human resources department are:
- Bain and Company
- Quicken Loans
- Mayo Clinic
To get a start in a management career with a good foundation in conflict resolution, you may consider earning a bachelor of arts or science in conflict resolution or alternative dispute resolution. Typical coursework in this degree program are introductory classes in global conflict, negotiation, community conflict, mediation, and research methods.
Master’s programs are becoming more common in the field of conflict resolution. Georgetown University has a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution that addresses intergroup, interpersonal and interstate conflict with practices, process and methods to revolutionize how workplace conflict is resolved. Courses cover conflict resolution theory, conflict resolution skills, negotiations, intergroup relations, and research design.
Students who are working full time have options to get their conflict resolution degree online. For example, Abilene Christian University has an online master’s degree in this field that has courses in negotiation and mediation, conflict theory, ethics, advanced mediation, dispute resolution and managing conflict in the workplace. It can be completed mostly online with two years, full time.
Conflict resolution programs will have widely varying requirements. Columbia University offers a master’s degree in negotiation and conflict resolution with the following requirements:
- Updated resume with relevant management experience
- Supplemental essay
- Statement of academic purpose
- GRE or GMAT scores are optional
- Admissions interview may be needed
Each school and program will have its own coursework required. The University of Massachusetts Boston requires these classes for its master’s program:
- Research Methods in Conflict Resolution
- Introductory Theory
- Conflict Resolution Systems for Organizations
- Cross Cultural Conflict
- Conflict in Workgroups
- Advanced Negotiation and Mediation
Are you interested in a career in conflict resolution? You should look far and wide for grants and scholarships that you can get to pay for your education. Whether you are obtaining a master’s or bachelor’s degree, you should be able to find some financial help. Consider these options:
- Rotary World Peace Fellows: This is a leading provider of scholarships for students who have an interest in peace programs, conflict resolution and humanitarian aid. Various levels of scholarships are available.
- Ralph J. Bunche Scholarship: This is a scholarship for minority students at undergraduate universities who want to study conflict studies or peace studies. You can use this scholarship at UCLA, Wayne State University, Colby College, and others.
- Gregory Sobel Diversity in Mediation Scholarship: This scholarship was named in honor of Gregory Sobel, who was an accomplished mediator. The scholarship is for various amounts and is managed by the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
For professionals who work in human resources or mediation and are interested in conflict resolution, you may want to consider earning one or more of these certifications:
- Associate Professional in Human Resources (APHR)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
- Professional in Human Resources International (PHRI)
- Society of Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
- International Mediation Institute Certified
Consider becoming involved with these associations if you have an interest in conflict resolution and mediation:
- National Association of Certified Mediators
- International Mediation Institute
- Association for Conflict Resolution
- American Arbitration Association
- International Association for Conflict Management
- National Association for Community Mediation
- Five Steps to Conflict Resolution. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/the-five-steps-to-conflict-resolution.aspx
- Human Resources Managers. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-2
- Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/arbitrators-mediators-and-conciliators.htm
- Highest Paying Markets for HR Managers. (2013, April 30). Retrieved from https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/on-numbers/scott-thomas/2013/04/pay-in-group-032.html