Handling Conflict in the Workplace

In any workplace, conflict is inevitable. When multiple personalities, work ethics, and biases collide, it stirs up potential conflict. However, as the employer, it’s your job to prevent and handle conflict when it arises. If you want your business running like a well-oiled machine, then this is part of your maintenance to guarantee that your employees are working effectively with each other.

How to Prevent It

Are You Encouraging it?

This is the question you need to ask yourself when managing people. A common employer practice is to start up some “friendly” competition in the workplace. It may have the best intentions, but factors like bias and differences in competitive nature can cause the work environment to become toxic. A little competition isn’t a bad thing and can be beneficial, but only when you unbiasedly evaluate the strengths of each team player and set up a competition that is fair to everyone in the company.

Another way that an employer can cause conflict or resentment in the office is by showing favoritism toward a certain person or group of people. You can’t expect the rest of your company to grow and reach their goals when you are focused on praising a certain person. Others end up feeling unappreciated or undervalued for their efforts.  A similar outcome results when you pick on someone. Always be impartial.

If you are an employer that can’t be trusted with personal information or details of one-on-one meetings, then you could be causing conflict. This immediately demonstrates that you are not someone that your employees can go to and employees will develop resentment toward you.

Show Appreciation

Before conflict begins, make sure you are showing appreciation to all of your employees equally. Not only should you show appreciation verbally, but you should show it through action. Just remember that your employees are your biggest asset and when they feel appreciated, their performance and productivity increases. Learn more about Ways to Show Employee Appreciation.

Host Team-Building Activities

Not only can team-building activities demonstrate your appreciation, but they give your employees the opportunity to engage with each other and build stronger relationships. You should also try activities that pair up employees who aren’t familiar with each other to build new connections as well.

Respect Differences

Not everyone works or socializes the same. This is something that employers sometimes fail to recognize. Get to know each of your employees to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. A great leader recognizes every individual’s strengths and respects their weaknesses or boundaries. A great leader will also provide ways for self-improvement and praise those who take steps to work on their weaknesses.

How to Address It

Recognize the Signs

Conflict can cause a decrease in productivity and even resignations, so watch out for signs of conflict. You can better watch out for conflict when you get to know your employees and understand what makes them tick. Most of the time, you may hear complaints about employees withholding information or slacking on their duties. These are common signs that there might be an underlying conflict.

Quickly Assess the Situation

Approach both parties of the conflict separately to gather information. You can ask questions regarding the situation, but make sure you stay objective and don’t share any personal beliefs or additional information. Once you have your notes about the situation from both parties, analyze the conflict objectively to piece together what may have happened.

Keep Details Private

DON’T TELL ANYONE ELSE ABOUT THE CONFLICT. As the employer, it’s your job to keep private information to yourself. If you share information about the conflict with someone within the company, you open yourself up to being viewed as “untrustworthy” as that info will spread through the workplace. This could encourage more conflict.

How to Resolve It

Resolve with the Employees Involved

While being impartial and fair, host a private meeting with both parties to resolve the situation. Give each party the opportunity to express concerns and grievances and don’t jump to any conclusions without hearing the whole story. Maintain a cordial and optimistic tone. Ask each party to come up with a solution and make the final solution based on their responses. Make sure to stay objective throughout the meeting.

Record & Monitor the Situation

Once you and the individuals involved have come up with a resolution that you all agree on, then document the incident including the proposed resolution. Continue to monitor the situation and check up on the individuals with their progress.

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