When two or more employees can’t seem to get along, it can affect productivity and morale not only for them but for everyone around them. At times emotions may run high, making it difficult to find a rational solution that works for both parties. There are times when disagreements among employees can be ignored while they work things out for themselves, but when conflict intensifies, management may need to get involved in conflict resolution among employees.
Find Out What’s Really Going On
Things aren’t always what they appear to be, and what people seem to be arguing about on the surface may or may not reveal the underlying problem. When you decide it’s time to get involved in conflict resolution among employees, it’s important to find a private place to talk with those in conflict where you won’t be interrupted. Allow plenty of time for discussion and don’t try to rush things.
Each of those involved in the conflict should be given an opportunity to express how they see the issue, what triggered it and why they haven’t been able to work through it. Ask plenty of questions and try to reach a point in which everyone agrees on what the disagreement is about. Clarifying the problem is an important step toward finding a solution.
Stay Focused on the Problem
It’s easy to get distracted by personalities, but conflict resolution among employees has to be about the problem, not the people. If an employee isn’t friendly or personable, it doesn’t mean their perspective isn’t important. At the other extreme, if an employee is very bubbly and charismatic, that doesn’t mean their perspective is always right or always makes more sense.
Leave personality out of it as you work to help them work through their differences. Finding a solution that works for everyone means staying focused on the problem rather than the individuals.
Looking for Common Ground
When everyone clearly understands the issue that needs to be solved, the next step is to brainstorm solutions. It helps to have each employee state what they’d like to see happen, with the understanding that they probably won’t get everything they want. Active listening is a tactic in which you listen carefully to what each employee has to say. You may want to take notes to help you remember specific details. Once an individual has said their piece, repeat it back to them to make sure there’s been no misunderstanding.
After each of those in conflict has had a chance to express what they’d like to see happen, try to identify common ground. When you’re working toward conflict resolution among employees, remind them that you’re on the same team and you’re all working on the shared vision of the company. Determine what the next steps will be.
Recognize When the Problem Isn’t Being Solved
In a perfect world, one meeting solves every problem and issues never resurface. It’s more realistic to recognize that it may take some time to resolve some conflicts. You’ll need to schedule follow-up meetings to make sure those in conflict are working through their difference. You may need to adjust all or part of the plan you’ve already made if it’s not working out.
There are times when no matter what you say or do, problems continue to resurface. This may be because of a personality conflict, or it could be that one or both employees are being uncooperative. Ongoing conflict shouldn’t be allowed to linger or intensify. Recognize when you may need to involve your HR department or an objective third party, preferably someone with training in conflict resolution.
Continue to work on leadership skills, including skills in communication and conflict resolution. Reach out to Peaceful Leaders Academy for information on available leadership training