Team conflict can be one of the most toxic elements in any company. It saps willpower, optimism, enthusiasm, and in general lowers the well being of all employees. Furthermore, this all leads to a drop in motivation and productivity, which, of course, leads to a drop in profit. A company cannot function if the people that are part of it are constantly fighting. It’s up to you, as a manager or boss, to actually get this issue under control.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is how you speak and communicate. No matter what kind of conflict came about, and no matter who is at fault, you need to stay calm and collected. Do not rush in like a tyrant trying to stifle a rebellion. Rather, you should be polite and respectful, without sounding condescending. Watch the tone of voice you use, pay attention to the words you choose.
While you need to present yourself as an authority figure (which you are, or should be), you do not want to seem aggressive. Be mindful of your body language. Of course, your first instinct may just be to nip thing right in the bud, to scream or threaten, and get things over with. However, this will just bury resentment, and it will let it fester. Then this resentment can grow, and the issue will be much more serious and difficult later on.
Offer, or try to figure out, a solution
You should not barge in and explain just how wrong and dumb people are (even if this is the truth). Remember, keep your temper under control, and keep your ego in check. While you should, of course, explain where people went wrong, and how the whole situation could and should have been avoided, try to be a bit more lax. Offer solutions on how this situation could have been avoided, and how to avoid it in the future.
If there is an argument centered around a team, where one employee made a mistake that ruined the entire project, don’t just tell him or her how wrong they were. Actually give some advice on either how to fix the situation, or how to be more careful next time. You will make things even better if you find a solution together with your team.
Ask for advice
Try to leave your ego at the entrance of your company building. Some situations may be just too complex for one person to handle, and then you should get some help. First of all, contacting and delegating the issue to HR may just be your best bet. On the other hand, contacting experts, like the Segal Mediation Group for example, can be even better. Professional mediators are trained to deal with workplace conflict, and to placate even the most irate of employees.
Another thing you could do is to actually ask for advice from your employees. For example, if there is some strong tension between two team members, speaking with a third member assigned to their project can yield some results. Perhaps this person knows the conflicting parties in question well, and can offer some objective advice and solutions.
Find some common ground
Do not just focus on the disagreement that happened, but rather, try to find some common ground. Treat both parties with respect, and implore them to do the same. The problem with focusing on the disagreement is that you will not be able to actually find a solution. You will keep the negative energy right there, instead of shifting it towards something positive.
If a disagreement happened because two employees have widely different approaches to an issue, try to create some kind of compromise. Your focus should, of course, rest on getting the job done, and done right, but you still want to make your employees happy. So with that in mind, perhaps have parts of the project be approached in two ways. Or, find a way to combine them. But, whatever you do, avoid any sign or instance of favoritism – it will not go well at all.
Workplace conflict is never easy, not for the employees, not for the employer. Still, you need to do what is right for both the company and for your people. By properly resolving conflict, and by mitigating any grievances that may arise at the workplace, you can keep the whole thing running smoothly and properly for some time.
Remember, avoid any favoritism, and ask for advice if you need to. Don’t just focus on the problem, but focus on possible solutions as well. And, of course, above all remember that often how you say things is more important than what you say. Treat people with respect, and keep your temper in check.
Audrey Taylor was born in San Francisco, and moved to Adelaide at the age of five. Marketer researcher and social media manager on hold, full – time mommy of a cheerful two-year-old. Graduated from Queensford college, worked in a couple of marketing agencies across Australia, eager to learn more about business and share her experiences. Traveled across Europe. Her hobbies include: home decor, fashion, travel, music, old movies.