Uh Oh, Here's How to Resolve Conflicts in the Workplace
Many business owners struggle with strife between team members. Even some of the most functional and orderly workplaces have their fair share of conflict.
While some disagreements are inevitable, reducing conflict is vital to morale and employee retention. So, how do you reduce conflicts, fix them when they happen, and try to avoid them in the future?
Resolving Conflicts in the Workplace
When a conflict does arise, it's essential to find the real issue. Often what seems to be the cause of conflict on the surface may not be what is causing it.
To scope out the real problem, listen carefully to both sides, even if your instinct is to support one over the other. Managers and supervisors should not take sides in employee conflicts unless somebody is doing something which generates a legitimate safety issue. Conflict coaching in the workplace should focus on ensuring that people can work together.
You should also identify ways to avoid the situation in the future and always follow through. Not seeking out the root cause will only create tension, and the problem will likely re-emerge.
However, understanding the root causes of interpersonal conflict at work can help you quell disputes before they happen.
Create an Employee Handbook
Written procedures and policies help ensure that everyone knows what the rules are.
The employee handbook should contain protocols for resolving conflict, including who to go to, how things are resolved, etc. All rules and guidelines must be clear so that all employees know what is expected of them. It is particularly vital to have a clearly written harassment policy; while you can hope never to need it, dealing with incidents without one can be a significant challenge.
The employee handbook should also reflect your company's values and the kind of workplace culture you are trying to build, as well as supporting compliance with labor and anti-discrimination laws. All of this can help you provide solid conflict avoidance in the workplace.
Hire the Right People
A major mistake many companies make is hiring the wrong people.
The candidate search and onboarding process should consider your culture. New hires must have the right values and a personality that suits the rest of the team. Poor hire fits cause conflict, and they are more likely to quit.
Consider how every new hire will interact with current employees. Consider giving candidates a tour of the workplace and ask employees, especially those working closely with them, what they think. Employees often spot indicators that someone will fit in with the team.
Establish a Culture of Awareness
Awareness is key. People need to know what page they should be on and when somebody might not be on the same one so it can be addressed quickly.
One thing to be careful of is the assumption that conflict can be avoided entirely. Instead, be aware that a problem arises before it becomes severe. The environment must also allow addressing disputes, animosities, and contentions. This means not penalizing people for acknowledging and dealing with conflict. Honesty and communication are crucial.
Partner With a PEO for Human Resources and Custom Procedures
Workplace performance is maximized when conflict is reduced, which is a sure thing when you partner with a PEO.
Partnering with a professional employer organization can help you establish custom procedures that reduce conflict, learn how to hire the right people, and do onboarding right. PRO Resources can handle conflict resolution and avoidance as well as training, wellness programs, and, of course, writing a good employee handbook.