How to productively handle employee conflict

When running your business, it is important to think of the well-being of your employees. Although your primary goal is to make sales and earn the loyalty of your customers, your employees play a pivotal role in achieving these initiatives.

If there is conflict amongst your employees, this can be detrimental to the success of your business. If you find that certain employees aren’t getting along, it could affect the demeanor of your workplace. As the leader of your business, you should become well-versed in handling employee conflict, so that it doesn’t turn into a long-term issue. This is especially necessary if your business does not have an HR department, making you responsible for addressing employee matters. In this post, we’ll explain how you can productively resolve tension between your employees, so that your staff can get back to focusing on their roles.

Resolving employee issues

  • Deal with drama immediately – If you hear that two employees aren’t getting along, you should aim to address this as soon as possible. Letting animosity fester will only prove to be detrimental to your business in the long run. The employees could quarrel in front of other staff members, or even worse, customers. Handle the issues now, and save yourself more stress later.
  • Listen to both sides – Before trying to resolve the dispute, meet with both employees separately. Give them each the opportunity to share their point of view. This will make your employees feel like you care about their opinions, and are willing to listen to their concerns. Plus, this will hopefully give you the ability to understand where they are coming from, so that you can try to devise a solution. Counselling can help you as well as the grieving employees solve these issues and understand each other much better.
  • Handle the matter privately – When resolving employee disagreements, you should strive to do this confidentially. There is no need to include employees that aren’t involved in the situation. Ultimately, this could make the circumstances worse, and lead to gossip in the workplace.
  • Consider what the disagreement is about – Not all matters can be handled the same. An employee quarrel could come down to the individuals having different working styles or personalities that don’t mesh well. Still, there might be more serious allegations or issues. You’ll have to consider each event as a separate entity, and find a solution that fits the situation.
  • Meet with both employees – Set up a time where you and both involved employees can sit down to discuss the problem. Acting as a mediator, encourage the employees to respectfully share their sides with each other. Hopefully, by the end of the discussion, you can get the employees to reach a resolution on their own. If you can end the meeting with the employees convinced that they can move on as professionals (and hopefully friends), then you’ve done your job.
  • Create a solution that is fair to both parties – If your joint meeting proved to be unsuccessful, you’ll have to devise a solution. You’ll want to ensure that neither employee feels like their concerns weren’t taken into consideration.

Moving forward

  • Check in – After a few days or weeks have passed, meet with the employees to confirm that there have been no further incidences. Hopefully, both employees will share the same story, and the issue will have been resolved. If not, then you may need to consider taking further action. Whether that be putting them in separate departments (if possible), or switching their schedules, it may be best if they no longer work in close capacity.
  • Hiring future employees – Make sure that when you are hiring new employees to join your business’s team, you consider their interpersonal skills. Hiring respectful employees with good communication skills will hopefully help prevent future conflicts. Aim to hire employees that will fit in well with existing team members. Still, you should instill in your employees that even if they have an issue, they should handle it with maturity and respect.Handling employee conflicts can be stressful for you as a business owner. With a myriad of responsibilities to attend to, you likely don’t have ample time to spend breaking up employee fights. Learning how to effectively resolve employee conflict will help you retain strong employees, and be able to motivate your team to focus on the success of your business.


Author Bio:

Katie Alteri is the content marketing coordinator at Fora Financial, a company that provides working capital solutions to small businesses across the U.S. Fora Financial can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.