Nothing puts a strain on a friendship like standing on opposite sides of the street for a parade. Whether you’re getting your tent and chairs ready to claim your spot on the neutral ground, or gearing up to position your ladder in front of the sidewalk, it’s a lifestyle choice that can stir up some controversy. However, having a difference in opinion shouldn’t rain on your parade, whether that difference is on the parade route or in the workplace.
Conflicts that are merely swept under the rug can lead to substantial losses of productivity through vehicles like gossip and the infamous rumor mill. Those losses can continue and even escalate, for as long as the issues remain unresolved. Every organization needs a formal, actionable plan for handling employee conflicts. Solutions need to consider all parties involved–your employees and your organization as a whole–in order to be successful.
Here are 6 ways to creatively and effectively handle employee conflicts:
Don’t Let Assumptions Guide You
In the eyes of your employees, you’re their solution. Don’t enter the situation with bias, or make assumptions before you’ve even asked enough questions to understand the circumstances entirely. Remaining neutral will build respect and trust with your employees, and make formulating a plan easier.
Ensure All Voices Are Heard
Consider all perspectives in the situation, listening to each party individually. Once you’ve got a grip on the fundamentals of the story, meet as a group to discuss potential solutions and foster mutual understanding.
Demonstrate That You Care
Authenticity is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but for good reason. Today’s workforce is incredibly in-tune with separating what’s real from what’s not. If you interact with your team in ways that show genuine concern, coming to a resolution will be far simpler.
Keep It Simple
Don’t muddy the waters further by getting involved in interpersonal drama, or bore your employees with a lengthy rant. Keep your thoughts helpful, neutral, and straight to the point.
Stay On Task
Once emotions come into play, it can become increasingly difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. Remember to mentally prepare for emotional responses so you can navigate around them with ease and devote your attention to the task at hand.
Don’t assume one conversation will fix everything. Regroup with involved parties and see how any proposed solutions are working. Has the appropriate progress been made? Will you need to follow-up again in the future? Even a quick check-in can help move things along and prevent future blow-ups.
Conflict is an unavoidable part of human nature. Even so, it doesn’t have to cause an unending stir in the workplace. With the right mindset and the right toolset, overcoming inter-employee issues can be fast, fruitful, and effective.