Managing Employee Conflict in the Workplace

Dealing with employee conflict is one of the biggest workplace challenges for any manager or organization leader.

Leading a team means creating an environment where people can thrive, grow and learn. No one wants to come to work every day and share space with stressed out staff members.

That’s why when a workplace disagreement festers and becomes an ongoing employee vs. employee conflict, it’s essential to intervene and help resolve the issue before it escalates. Because the longer you wait to get involved, the worse the problem can get.

How to Intervene

The most important thing to do as you approach staff members in the middle of a conflict is to remain completely neutral at the start. You never, ever want to give off the impression that you’re favoring a particular individual before hearing both sides of the story.

Intervene by getting all involved employees together in one room and listening to each person’s account of the problem. Let them know that you’re not there to pass judgment but, rather, to assist them in finding a resolution.

However, even though your primary role is to serve as a mediator during an employee conflict, you also want to be firm. If the issue has caused employees to behave in a manner that you find inappropriate, or if productivity levels have decreased as a consequence of the conflict, let them know that you’re unwilling to tolerate it. This will add a sense of urgency to the meeting and make it clear that a solution to the problem is mandatory.

Things to Avoid

Skirting the issue

Even if a conflict appears superficial, it’s still best to address it before it turns into something larger. An unresolved conflict or disagreement can cause major problems down the road. Don’t settle for a Band-Aid solution. And don’t let your employees convince you that an issue has been resolved until you have first-hand evidence that conditions have improved.

Failing to notice the wider implications of the conflict

It’s highly unlikely that the only people affected by a workplace conflict are the individuals directly involved. Everyone in your office—everyone who interacts regularly with the employees in question—is impacted by the stress of having tension in the workplace. Conflicts make people feel as if they are walking on egg shells in the presence of the antagonists and this ultimately creates a hostile, divided work environment.

After you’ve dealt with the source of the problem, now it’s time to address it on a bigger scale to ensure that any additional issues haven’t emerged in the wake of the initial conflict.

For more great tips of dealing with employee conflict, contact Sparks Group today.

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