Doing damage control to mediate and resolve problems when employees don’t get along takes a skilful people manager who knows how to approach a situation like this with an open mind. Empathy is required to dissolve hatred because it is usually a product of miscommunication, misunderstanding, or fear.
So, what can you do about employee disputes?
Here are some quick tips to de-escalate workplace conflict:
If employees are disrupting the everyday productivity of the workplace, this needs to stop. As the employer, it's your job to make sure the conflict does not escalate out of control, interfering with other employees and causing other problems for your business.
Be wary, toxic employees can be contagious. Stress spreads stress; and this can be detrimental to the culture of your workplace. Remain conscious and keep an eye out for disputes whether they are big or small.
Find the facts.
Employers need to fact find. What was the dispute in relation to? Was it to do with workload or a particular work project? Getting to the bottom of the dispute can highlight immediately what needs to change in order to please both parties and resolve the situation.
It is important to provide equal opportunity to each employee involved, and provide opportunity for them to explain their view. Ensure that you invite each party to a meeting where they have an opportunity to recount the situation. Most people would rather avoid a tricky conversation if they can, but this unwillingness to tackle issues head-on can leave them with potentially negative consequences. A stand-out employee will confront a difficult situation with thoughtfulness and timeliness, rather than run from such a challenge.
The benefits of initiating a difficult conversation can be huge. While bringing up tough situation with a boss or manager can be awkward, you can take action to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Request a mediation meeting. Mediation is a strong tool to ensure that the correct steps are taken to find a positive outcome. Compromising and learning the reasons behind each person’s views really help to clear the air between the employee’s and help mend the relationship. Poor relations between employee’s can fester, with the potential to have a detrimental impact on the business, as well as the physical and mental welfare of all employees.
Staying solutions-focused, respectful and open to alternative perspectives will not only help you resolve problems and deliver results but also make a positive impression with all your employees.
Ask any witnesses to come forward. If the dispute involved significant wrong doing, or if the dispute involved a breach in the employment contract or business policy, this is serious and could result in dismissal.
Witnesses can help to add to the details of the dispute and, if required, build a case to support the dismissal. See this guide on dismissal and termination for more information.
Document every detail. Employers need to fill out an incident report for any wrong doings. By putting the specifics of the dispute in writing, employers can support their actions and submit this as evidence if the need arises. In addition, should a dispute happen again or if the dispute is legally escalated, the employer will have supporting evidence to draw back on.
Coach and support.
Offer the feuding employees some development coaching – they will appreciate the investment you are making in them and hopefully the returns will be worth it to you and your business. The bonus is that the coaching will relieve you of all that time and energy you are spending to prevent future disputes.
Use HR professionals.
Get immediate advice from external and impartial HR experts such as an Employsure Consultant to help you avoid disputes escalating into bullying claims in your business. Experts will guide you to handle employee conflict and resolve employee complaints. If you can’t settle things between your feuding employees, ask Employsure for viable solutions.
In order to manage disputes in the workplace, every employer should show their commitment to policies and procedures in each and every incident. By doing so you can ensure your team dedicates themselves to meeting the expectations of your business.