Updated: Mar 2
As a manager, how you deal with employee conflict is crucial and it’s important that you have processes in place that set a standard. We’ve put together some strategies that make this process less daunting and if executed correctly, can lighten the weight of some of the more burdensome tasks of being a manager.
1. A positive environment: A positive environment encourages positive interactions. As a result, the likelihood for conflict lessens.
2. Define acceptable behaviour: It’s important that appropriate and acceptable behaviour is defined right from the very beginning. Everyone must be on the same page which will allow disciplining a much easier task for you knowing that the bar is set at the same level for every employee.
3. Let people tell their story: Lend an ear. This often can do the world of good for the employee/s in question and that may be all that is needed. Let them get their feelings of their chest.
4. Identify the true impediment: Delve a little further into any conflicts that arise and look for recurring patterns. If there’s something that seems to pop up too often then you know fixing the source, levels of conflict are likely to drop.
5. Approach it as soon as the behaviour becomes prevalent: The longer you leave it brewing, the likelihood the bigger the explosion in the end. If you can learn to sense conflict that may arise, try and meet this conflict head on before it comes to fruition. If you leave it too long, your employees will lose faith in you as a mentor and role model.
6. Determine the type of conflict and its severity: Everyone is different and each person has their own ideas and opinions on types of conflict. Try and put yourself in both parties shoes and determine the severity of the conflict. Is it simply petty and can be dealt with quickly and easily? Or is it something much more?
7. Eliminate favouritism: Favoritism is a recipe for disaster. Although it is human nature for us to like some people more than others, try and make an effort with each and every employee. It help to eliminate you from being drawn into conflicts and used as someone’s personal ammunition!
8. Accommodate the differences: If a little reshuffling of shifts is necessary to keep the air clear and peaceful – then go ahead! If certain employees think it’s better that they are apart and this doesn’t interfere with the flow of the business, do all you can to keep all parties happy. Of course – within reason though.
9. Realize that not all brains are the same: Everyone is different. Some conflicts may take longer than others to solve. The more experience you have with dealing with them, the better the mechanisms you will develop to cope with them. Always remember that no two people are ever going to react exactly the same.
10. Verbal and written warnings: This is obviously the route you want to avoid as much as possible. Do ensure you have strict company policies in place regarding employee conflict management and stick to these policies! Having a good benchmark will the HR side of things a lot easier for you and the rest of your management team. All conflicts need attention and must be dealt with accordingly and with the correct action.