Left to fester, disputes between employees affect productivity and can lead to communications breakdowns and impacts morale. So it’s critical that every teamamte does their part to recognize any small issue or conflict and find solutions quickly before the issue grows into something much larger. Here’s a five-step process that you can implement.
- Identify conflicts quickly. Successful managers keep a finger on the pulse of day-to-day interactions in the workplace. Interpersonal conflicts, though, often easily noticed get dismissed as “no big deal” “It will work itself out” or “I don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings so I’ll let it pass”. These “sweeping it under the carpet” actions only serve to add resentments, frustrations and never really solve the core issue. In-fact, left unsolved the issue will snowball into a much bigger issue that normally will grow to the point of an emotional outburst that causes unneeded harm and impacts team engagement. The key point to remember is that procrastination never pays. The sooner the issue is deal with the easier is to resolve. It’s like a high interest credit card, much better to pay off a small balance right away as opposed to keep making ongoing charges and only making minimum monthly payments, before long you are facing a debt nightmare!
- Communicate. Upon becoming aware of a conflict, quickly develop a full understanding of it’s nature and source. Be open to both sides of the issue as you discuss the dispute individually with the teammate(s) who have the opposing view.
- Meet ASAP. Once you clearly understand both sides of the situation, state the issue, the impact it has had and how the impacted person has felt as a result. Then ask the other person to describe the issue in their own words and to voice their suggestions for a resolution. Make this meeting a listening session for all parties, and don’t allow it to deteriorate into a shouting match or blame game. Work to clear the air.
- Clarify priorities and develop solutions. Once the issue has been aired and the reasons for the conflict are clear, have the involved parties to suggest ways to minimize the dispute, find solutions so the issue doesn’t happen again and restore peace in the workplace.
- Monitor progress closely. Personal disputes can leave lingering effects, so keep a close eye on the situation. Talk to the individuals involved even after you’ve found a solution. Follow up as needed with additional suggestions. Each parties commitment to the agreed solution is important in establishing and maintaining a more cooperative and productive workplace.