Should I Deal with Employee Conflict?

Angry man

You most certainly should if you want a better work environment. However, managing conflict effectively isn’t easy, and you need to be a skilled communicator and people’s person. You also need to promote a more open work environment so employees will be encouraged to open up about work issues. Fostering an open environment means listening to employee concerns and really understanding them. That will foster a more open environment, and you can do that by merely asking questions and focusing on their perceptions to make sure you really understand them. Your swift response to employee conflicts is essential to resolving them effectively. So how can you deal with employees who are unable to resolve their own disputes?

Acknowledge the Conflict Problem

The first reassuring step is to acknowledge the conflict situation. Strive for honestly, clear and calm communication which will go a long way to resolving the adverse situation. Allow your employees to speak more openly about the problem, that way you will better acquaint yourself with it.

Encourage Individuals to Express their Feelings

By allowing your employees to express their anger, hurt, and feelings you lay the bedrock for resolution. Before any problem can be resolved, these emotions should be acknowledged and expressed freely. When people are allowed to let out their emotions and speak about their issues, it will have a calming effect, laying the groundwork to solve the disagreement and smoothen things out successfully.

What exactly is the Problem?

The next vital step is to clearly define the problem and break it down into manageable parts. How did the problem start? Is there a negative impact on work and interrelationships. Is there a personality clash? Questions such as, have you a clue about how the problem started, and exactly what it is. You should make the endeavour to meet the employees separately to hear their side of the story and question them in more detail.

How can I reach a solution?

Your goal is to determine the underlying needs to reach an amicable solution. Your primary objective should not be to decide who’s right, and who’s wrong. Your real goal is to achieve a solution that is satisfying for everyone involved, and they can all work and live together in harmony. By first determining their needs instead of moving directly to resolving the issue will create a win-win situation. Finding the root if the problem is crucial, and first, you need to understand their needs before implementing solutions. Discovering their advantages is the first step to determining their needs, and subsequently solving any festering and lingering bad feelings and disagreements.

Find Common Ground

Rather than focusing on the differences, do the exact opposite and try to find common ground. Start by agreeing on the existing problem. Then formulate the procedure to follow. Find the worst case scenario and worst fears. After that, you are in a better position to solve any problems. You can then agree on minor changes that will create an experience of success.

Solutions that Satisfy Needs 

You will need to create multiple alternatives to solve the underlying problem. That will make it easier to determine exactly what action to take. You will need to ensure both parties agree to and buy into the proposed solutions. You need to get a tangible agreement from both employees and be wary of total silence, which could be a sign of passive resistance and disagreement.

Follow Up & Monitor

It is equally important to monitor the situation to make sure it doesn’t persist. You could schedule a follow-up meeting with your employees to check how things are working out, and possibly fine-tune the solution. Without adequate monitoring you risk the problem rearing its nasty head again, and the bad blood might persist unknowingly to you.

Worst Case Scenario

An unresolved problem is the worst case scenario as it could lead to significant disruption and decreased productivity, besides the risk of losing one of your employees, or both. Nevertheless, there are additional solutions you can apply to solve such problems. If all else fails, call in an independent facilitator. That may provide further insights on solving the problem that you may have missed. In extreme situations where the question becomes a performance issue, it could become a valid topic to hold coaching and training sessions, individual performance appraisals, and even disciplinary action! One thing’s for sure, if you don’t resolve the problem somehow, it will impact your business negatively.


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