Not every business has an HR dept – so how do you keep things professional in your SME?
Conflict in the workplace is a natural by product of having so many brilliant minds buzzing in close proximity for prolonged periods of time.
Although minor at first, these little run-ins do need to be addressed appropriately and in a timely manner, before they spin out of control and damage the overall morale of the workplace.
Each person wants to be heard – and rightly so. Thankfully office issues can always be resolved long before the need for professional 3rd party mediation arises by simply using a bit of common decency and some good old fashioned manners. The only real long-term damage is done by ignoring issues and pushing them to the sidelines and then trying to carry on working without having ever addressed them. This begins to slowly but surely affect the quality of the work produced by staff members whether they are conscious of it or not.
Clear communication is the key to conflict resolution and should always be done face to face as soon as any problems between two parties arise. This is due to the fast-paced nature of the the world we live in today, where public social media platforms are available to help any small story blow up quickly when not managed well. Turning it into an open issue where everybody chips in unnecessarily. Do you really want your staff discussing your workplace negatively on Facebook? Thought not.
If there is conflict arising in your workplace, consider these methods of dealing with it before it’s too late…
Understand that conflicts will happen in highly energised spaces and don’t be too shocked when it does. Try to maintain a level headed approach and you may find that each conflict contains in it a valuable lesson for everybody involved and could make you all a stronger team at the end of the day. If you’re a business owner or managing a team, remain high level and never revel in the drama.
Try to identify the root cause of the issue, the heart of the matter. Also outline the consequences and make sure all the parties involved understand how this conflict affects things in future. Explaining why it is a problem helps the people involved to understand your reasons for needing to resolve it, it also helps participants look beyond themselves and see the whole situation from a new, outsider’s perspective.
Get everybody to focus again and by bringing them onto the same page. Defining an objective is an excellent way to have people commit to the greater good. Outline and write down an ideal target outcome, setting this goal clearly let’s both parties see what it is they are aiming for and makes achieving peace a lot more likely.
Removing yourself from the core the situation allows you to take a step back and analyse the real issues at hand. By addressing each person in turn you can find out just what it is that they are really upset about and prevent them from displacing their anger. For example, something might have happened back at home which upset them before they even arrived at the workplace.
Although employees shouldn’t bring their home-life issues to work, at the end of the day, we’re all human. Aim to understand that some people have a lot on their plates and may be dealing with bigger issues outside of work and try to cut them some slack where possible. If someone is clearly not on their A-game because of personal troubles, the best thing you can do for them and for the overall morale of the business is to let them take a day to get their head straight. An employee that is miserable and snappy to other colleagues will not benefit the business.
Solve it live
Regardless of how the whole issue started and who got involved, the best solution will always be found in face2face real-time communication. Whether it is sitting both parties down in one room, having one big conference call on loudspeaker or Facetime – real talk goes a lot further than email, social media or texting when it comes to resolving issues permanently. Whether the feed is audio only or includes visuals, you need to create a situation whereby you can listen for voice tone, watch for body language, hear the pauses between words and get a feel for what each person is going through.
Try to keep in mind that issues in the work place are usually caused by individuals that are passionate about their roles and what they stand for. In most cases, conflict arises when employees don’t see eye to eye when discussing greater good of the business.