Conflict is an inevitable part of any workplace. Employees sharing a cubicle squabbling over music volume, coworkers arguing about a call in last night’s game, two managers debating the best way to address a problem – you could expect to find these disagreements at any office. In many cases, office conflicts are resolved peacefully without involving a supervisor or member of the human resources staff. In some instances, however, everyday workplace conflicts can escalate and become serious issues that require intervention or mediation.
Below are five tips to help supervisors handle workplace conflicts:
Address the conflict in a timely manner. The longer a conflict continues to go on, the greater the impact it will have on your team’s productivity and morale. Instead of waiting for the animosity to boil over into a confrontation, address conflicts as soon as they arise.
Address the conflict only with those who are directly involved. Workplace disputes have a tendency to suck in other employees. As other employees chime in and begin to take sides, what began as a simple disagreement can quickly divide an entire department. When you become aware of a problem, call a meeting with only those people who are directly involved in the conflict.
Let everyone speak. Supervisors should always strive to be impartial until all they understand all the facts of a conflict. Let everyone involved have the chance to explain his or her side of the story. Not only will this give your employees a chance to clear the air, but it will also help you get to the root cause of a conflict.
Look for creative solutions to the conflict. Great managers look for ways to resolve disagreements with positive outcomes. Once you’ve heard all sides of a disagreement, encourage your employees to look for areas of common ground that can help them come to some sort of compromise. You may also want to consider creating guidelines or recommendations that outline the necessary steps the employees should take to resolve the conflict.
Take action if necessary. If your employees are unable to come to an agreement on their own or do not adhere to a resolution plan, it may be necessary for you to take action to address the problem. This may include scheduling the employees involved for different shifts, moving the employees’ work areas or taking more serious disciplinary action.
While conflict is a natural part of every workplace, supervisors shouldn’t let it derail or negatively impact production or business activities. Supervisors should make promoting a work environment in which employees are encouraged to value their co-workers’ input and respectfully resolve disputes a priority.
To learn more about how to address workplace conflicts, check out the recap of our webinar "Respect In The Workplace, hosted by one of G&A Partners' senior human resources experts in March 2015.
G&A Partners, a leading national professional employer organization and HR outsourcing provider, has been helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, take better care of their employees and enjoy a higher quality of life for more than 20 years. G&A alleviates the burden of tedious, employment-related tasks by delivering proven human resources processes and technology, allowing business owners and executives to focus their time, talent and energy on their company’s core products and services.