Handling any type of Workplace or Employee Conflict can be very frustrating!
Sometimes you may feel like you are providing day care instead of leading an organization.
If you get to a position where you feel this way you need to take a step back and truly begin to apply some good leadership skills.
First thing you must do is peel back the layers to see if you can find the root causes of the conflict.
I have seen where something very insignificant, such as an impolite remark, set into motion employee conflict that ended up costing employees their jobs.
Let's first understand that if you have two or more people working closely together for up to eight hours at a time, you will sooner or later have employee conflict. It's going to happen.
The difference is how it is handled!
However, there are some things that can help to reduce employee conflict.
One of the most important is to have a policy on gossip.
Gossip is probably one of the most common causes of employee conflict, and if held to an absolute minimum or eliminated, you will make great strides in reducing any conflict.
I have provided a sample written warning on Gossip in my Written Warning section.
There are other causes of course such as relationships between sexes, things that occur when off duty, people that aren't polite, etc. But all in all, gossip is at the top of the list.
Once you are faced with two or more employees that are having conflict it is best to not ignore it. In most cases you may be the last one to find out. Generally the employees in that area are already aware of it, and probably fed up with it as well.
If it got too far out of control, employees begin to take sides. Try to stop it before this happens. Worse case scenario is an actual fight!
So now that you are aware that you have employee conflict you need to call in each employee separately and question them thoroughly. I am a strong believer in asking a lot of questions. In most cases I will ask the same question, stated differently with some questions in between to see if there is a different answer.
Something else I like to do is to restate their answer putting a little twist on it. This generally gets them to open up a little more by trying to be clearer with their answer because they don't think I understand. I may leave out a detail or put an extra detail in to draw out something. It doesn't always work, but the percentages are high. Silence is another way to draw out more information. People hate silence and will ramble just to eliminate it.
After you have all the details, you would then need to decide if any policy has been broken. If so, of course you need to deal with this. As a rule of thumb, it doesn't matter to me who started the conflict. If policies have been broken by both, they both should receive discipline.
If one has threatened the other and it seems reasonable to believe that they have, you must also deal with this head on. There are many solutions from, reassigning the violator to a different area, all the way to termination. Do your due diligence on this prior to acting. Don't want a wrongful discharge claim.
If no policies have been violated, and you feel it could be beneficial to get both parties in a room with you acting as the facilitator to talk things out, I would strongly suggest this. I have been very successful with this. You must stay in control and set some ground rules up front.
Most organizations have a policy about conduct at work which this mayor may not fall into depending on how you have it written. If so, a written counseling may be in order for both of them, or even more severe discipline.
I have provided a sample written warning on many different issues, including Conduct at Work in my written warning section of this website.
Leaders with good leadership skills generally have a sense about whether you have any employee conflict. Another good tool is to have regularly schedule fun events, such as pot lucks. At one event I had after we ate we had wheel chair races. We put a little twist on it by having the one pushing the wheel chair blind folded, and the one in the wheel chair had to give the directions. They had a blast. Little did they know I tried to pair up the ones I thought needed to get a long better.
Hope this gives you a little help in dealing with any employee conflict you are facing.
Just know that everyone stills faces it. But everyday your good leadership skills will improve with each hurdle you go over.
Good Luck and May God Bless You!
Dealing with Conflict – Use Team Building Exercises!
A growing problem in the workplace is employee conflict. It ranges in severity from just a verbal argument to all out fist fights.
If you are not proactive it can become not only an employee morale problem but potentially a huge legal issue.
Learn to recognize the signs of employee conflict early to avoid all of this and take steps to reduce the possibilities of it occurring.
Just one thing you can do as a pro active step is to set up employee team building activities. This gets everyone involved and hopefully having some fun together. It builds trust among them while easing the tension.
Dealing with Conflict – Use Team Building Exercises!
A book I have used is "Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers" by Brian Cole Miller. They are quick and easy to use. I believe there are 50 exercises that he provides. Amazon offers this at a very affordable price. Of course there are many books out there that you can use, but I like this one.
In addition to team building exercises you need to make sure you are physically present in the work place not leaving it to chance that nothing will be happening. The old adage of Leadership or Management by walking around is good advice also.
Have an open door policy and live up to it. When they ask to see you don't put them off or continue working on your computer as they begin telling you their issue.
Take every threat serious!
Take threats serious and do not tolerate them. If you recognize that an employee is threatening another employee, deal with it immediately. Do not delay.
Make sure you have a policy of no harassment of any kind. Any policies that you do establish make sure you have them in writing. I have provided information on this on my website. I encourage you to take a look at it.
Another good source of information is "Dealing with Problem Employees: A Legal Guide" by Amy Delpo who is an attorney. This is an excellent resource for you to review before something happens or God forbid, after. Amazon offers this in new and used additions at good prices. Check it out!
The last thing to put a stop to through developing a company policy would be Gossip. This is a huge conflict creator. If you want employee conflict just allow all kinds of gossip to float around your workplace. Do not tolerate it. Have a policy on it.
I hope this helps you out and I encourage you to check out my website and the books above.
Thank you and May God Bless You!