A conflict between employees can disrupt the workflow in your organization. In worst-case scenarios, this animosity between co-workers can reflect in client meetings or during a crucial time in your project. In short, negativity in the workplace won’t do anyone good. Employee conflicts are always on a down-low until either party runs out of patience.
In the end, by the time the situation comes to HR’s attention, the relationship between both parties is irredeemable. Sometimes, it ends with an employee quitting. It’s best to take the role of a mediator to prevent resignation. Workplace conflicts are bound to happen anytime. It’s best to be prepared, so here’s a guide on how to resolve conflicts:
#1 Find the Root of Problem
Before anything else, make sure to understand the nature of the conflict. Make sure it’s not an EEOC issue, such as but not limited to discrimination or harassment within the workplace. Be familiar with your company’s policies regarding this type of problem. If ever you find out the company doesn’t have related policies, make it a priority. Once you confirm it’s not an Equal Employment Opportunity issue, figure out the root of the problem.
#2 Encourage Employees To Resolve It Themselves
As a workplace leader, you want your employees to be self-sufficient as much as possible. Before directly involving yourself, it’s essential to take a step back. Sometimes, reacting to each workplace drama will negatively affect your image as a leader. In worst-case scenarios, your employees could see you as playing favorites within the team.
However, encouraging both parties to resolve it themselves doesn’t mean you’ll ignore the issue. It will still require slight facilitation on your end, especially if the involved parties themselves avoid full-on confrontation.
Behind the scenes, it’s best to guide both employees. As you help both parties, it’s best to draw a line. Remember, always use your judgment as you address employee conflicts. Here are guidelines to help you approach the issue:
- Make sure if the situation is “emotionally charged.” It will help you assess the severity of employee conflict.
- Talk to each employee individually. It’s best to do this in private.
- Encourage open communication and respect for both parties.
#3 Meet at Neutral Ground
If the situation can’t be saved by leaving both parties alone, it’s time for you to step in. It’s essential to meet the involved parties on a neutral ground. It’s best to set a meeting after allowing both parties enough time to calm down. Remember, nothing good results from a meeting filled with intense emotions. As the mediator, it’s important not to have a biased opinion. Before meeting with the employees, never assume you know what happened despite rumors.
It’s best if you state your ground rules. Ensure a clear message that regardless of position, each will be held accountable for their behavior. If an encouraging approach doesn’t work with both parties, it’s time for you to put your foot down. Let the employees know that if established rules aren’t followed, it will lead to disciplinary action.
#4 Listen to Both Sides of The Story
As the mediator, you need to gauge their hostility. It would help if you let them know that you are present to hear about the facts. Each side will want to feel that their opinions are acknowledged.
So it’s best to let each side express their opinion without interruption. It’s your role never to take sides in this issue. You need to approach the issues as objectively as possible.
#5 Brainstorm Solutions
After listening to both sides, it’s time to come up with a solution together with the employee. If you’re having a hard time concluding a solution, consult your employee handbook. It’s vital to get the employee’s opinion regarding this matter. Once reaching a compromise on both sides, make sure both parties wholeheartedly agree with the solution.
#6 End with Apology
As childish as it may sound, sometimes an apology serves as a bridge to repair a professional relationship.
Common Reasons of Employee Conflict
- Clashing egos and personality
- Seniority issues
- Workplace stress
- Result of heavy workload
In the end, we can’t avoid employee conflict. Overall, 85% of employees are reported to experience workplace conflict. If you hear a clash between employees, it’s best to address the problem to avoid physical arguments immediately.
When it comes to employee conflicts, it’s also vital to assess yourself. Be sure you can intervene in a controlled and professional manner before stepping as a mediator. If not, ask an HR professional for help.