Video Interview – HR Magazine Singapore


Article – Don’t Wait Until Conflicts Arise
By: Sabrina Zolkifi, Singapore
Published: Mar 22, 2011

Singapore – Far too often, human resources (HR) practitioners only get called to manage a conflict when things have already gotten out of hand.

Peter Hiddema, principal of Common Outlook Consulting and visiting professor of decision sciences at INSEAD, advised HR to provide a “safe” communicating culture so employees can consult them before the problem escalates.

He said one of the ways HR can better minimise conflict in the workplace is to “lower the barriers” so that employees feel they are better able to approach for help. One advice Hiddema gave is to constantly engage employees through direct one-on-one communication.

“Informal conversations are where you find out more than formal meetings,” he said. By always being available to staff, HR might find it easier to manage conflict or have employees reach out to them early in the problem.

“Most of the time in negotiation, we focus too much on just claiming value,” Hiddema said. “Unfortunately that destroys some of the resources, and our will and ability to solve the problem.”

Instead of claiming value, Hiddema advised to create value instead, where problem solving is done collaboratively and creatively. He added HR professionals who are good negotiators will be good problem solvers as well, as they are able to use their skills to effectively make positive differences.

HR should also identify each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and also be aware of their own, so they are better able to leverage those differences when solving a problem.


  1. Cultures can be changed with great focus. We need to have cultures that balance the feminine and masculine perspectives, as the masculine perspective has left many cultures out of balance. My book, “Win at Work! The Everybody Wins Approach to Conflict Resolution” (Wiley) helps all professionals learn how to resolve conflict without confrontation, and speaks to improving company cultures. I have a PhD in Conflict Resolution. Thanks for your article!

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