When it comes to conflict resolution with employees, there is plenty of information regarding what to do…and what not to do. To help you resolve conflicts successfully in a timely manner, review what to avoid when employees are at odds.
Depending on the conflict, it can be easy to over-generalize and potentially offend the employees in conflict. Starting any sentence with “Well, you always do [x and y”, “So-and-so always does [this]” and similar wording immediately puts the receiver on the defensive, which can result in an negative, accusatory conservation that gets in the way of tackling the real issue.
Before making a statement that can be construed as overgeneralizing, pause for a moment. Think about what you are saying and if it is actually true or not. Doing so can easily prevent the situation from escalating and creating further strife.
There are plenty of sayings about assumptions and all of them are true for a reason. Assuming you know what the conflict entails when you might only have a quarter or half of the actual story is typically grounds for disaster. Rather than assuming anything and possibly making the situation worse, listen carefully to both sides. As the objective manager or supervisor, it is your job to hear what each employee has to say without making judgments. If you feel you cannot do this for any reason, hire a professional mediator. These individuals are trained to remain objective at all times, listen to every applicable side, and provide options for resolving conflicts in ways that satisfy everyone.
You will also want to avoid assuming you know what one employee or both team members mean. If you are not 100% sure of their meaning, ask for clarification. Having all the facts before moving forward with conflict resolution with employees is always the smart, professional move.
To truly hear the employees when they discuss the current problem, eliminate all distractions. Put your phone on silent or ‘do not disturb,’ close the office or meeting room door, and silence all other devices. Giving employees in conflict your undivided attention not only helps you determine what caused the conflict and provide ideas on how to solve it, it shows your employees respect. No one likes to feel they are “talking to a wall” because the person or people are clearly distracted. By listening intently to what your employees have to say, you are making it clear that their well-being is important and so is maintaining a harmonious work environment. Asking open-ended questions and truly listening to the answers is usually helpful, such as saying “Why are you currently frustrated?” or “What about [x and y] upsets you?”
Ignoring the Conflict
Ignoring the issue between employees and hoping it will go away is never a good idea. It allows the issue to fester and possibly create tension throughout the office or other work environment, while also making employees think that you “just don’t care” about their problems with one another. What’s more, unresolved issues can create other issues, such as employees lashing out at one another, gossiping about each other, or making accusations about each other.
Additionally, if the conflict concerns serious accusations, such as those involving bullying, religious intolerance, or sexual harassment, ignoring the problem can be viewed as condoning it. This can make you liable in any legal actions that follow, hurt your career, and cause reputation damage to your company.
Learning how to resolve conflicts peacefully takes time. For professional assistance regarding conflict resolution with employees, please contact Peaceful Leaders Academy today!