Even the most streamlined and easygoing of work environments are prone to employee conflict sooner or later. While it is sometimes natural for individuals to feel disparate from their peers or feel animosity toward a co-worker, it is crucial to the ongoing success of a company that the entire staff is able to get along on a day-to-day basis. Although some situations have no discourse other than termination of a staff member, there are many methods one can use in order to ease workplace tensions and ensure cooperation between staff members.
The first and most important step you need to take when attempting to solve a workplace conflict is to open up lines of communication between all of the involved parties. Speak to each one separately in order to hear their side of the story before proceeding, and don’t hesitate to question anything that doesn’t seem to make sense. At the end, make sure to establish acceptable behavior by pointing out what they have done wrong or what they could have done better.
Depending on the exact situation, you may have to step in and provide guidance to the employees in question. Whether this consists of simply clarifying individual job roles or offering personalized advice, simply reminding staff members of their position, rank or seniority may be enough to quell any workplace conflict.
After speaking with each employee separately, some find it helpful to bring them together in the form of a moderated discussion. This gives employees the chance to tell each other how they feel in an environment that is safe and secure. When applicable, try to point out any common ground that is shared between the conflicted parties. Make sure to encourage teamwork as well as compromise in order to maximize the discussion’s impact.
If possible, try separating the employees in question. Simply moving one to another department, or modifying their schedules so that the employees are never in direct contact with each other, may be enough to resolve any workplace conflict. In order for this method to work successfully, however, all of the employees in question would have to agree to the new arrangements.
Make sure to follow through on any new plans, commitments or decisions. Once the conflict has been identified and an agreement has been reached, it will be up to you to enforce the resolution on a day-to-day basis. Failure to do so may result in a renewal of the conflict at a later time.
Before making any decisions, especially those involving disciplinary action, always make sure to do your own research into the matter. Speak with any other co-workers who may have been a witness to the conflict and try your best to see the whole picture. Assess any motivating factors that may be driving the conflict and, if possible, try to eliminate them from the workplace.
When all else fails, the only logical step may be termination of one or more employees. If this is your only choice, make sure to use any internal procedures when moving forward. Stick to any established protocol regarding grievance filing, disputes and disciplinary action.