In most cases, employees will spend as much if not more time with each other than they do with family in friends when you take into account a 40+ work week. Having a group of people with varying personalities in such close proximity to one another and for such extended periods of time they are bound to butt heads every now and again. Differences in opinion, conflicting attitudes, several levels of work ethic and interpretations of quality are but a few of the reasons employees square off at work.
If you are in the trenches, you realize it happens more often than you think. Resolving these conflicts when they become a disruption can have most Human Resources or Operations Managers taking a day off. But fear not, here are a few tips on how to bring the temperature down on hot issues.
First, listen. In most cases simply allowing the individuals to vent one at a time is enough for the situation to defuse itself without much effort. Next, if the issues are still heated, offer several suggestions to see if there is one that both parties can agree on.
No common ground? No worries. Not every problem is an easy one to fix. A little work may be required such as getting both parties to write down suggestions on how to solve the problem. Review all suggestions on your own and then present the one that makes the most sense to them to see if a mutually beneficial solution can be agreed upon.
Still no resolution? It may be time for some tough love. Some cases may have become so personal that no amount of on-the-job professional counseling will quill the bitterness. Remind the employees that they are responsible for their work regardless of differences. Disciplinary action is always a tool that can be used for employees that are unwilling to see eye to eye at the workplace. If employees refuse to make an effort to assist in the conflict resolution, it may be time to explore other personnel options. Once the employees understand that point, the job gets a bit easier. A little old school? Maybe, but when all else fails, go with what works.
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