It’s a fact of life that not everyone gets along. Sometimes, a difference of opinion creates a divide. In others, a single upsetting incident is enough to harm a once healthy relationship.
When a conflict between two people enters a workplace, managers often have to step up and handle the situation. Otherwise, should the problem remain unresolved, morale and productivity can be harmed.
Addressing conflict in the workplace is never easy, particularly if the situation has been allowed to stew for an extended period. But, there are things a manager can do to make the office a more harmonious place to be. Here’s how to get started.
Identify the Core Problem
Before you can resolve a conflict, you need to know precisely what it is. Without this information, finding a solution will be practically impossible as there is an endless list of potential reasons why two people may not get along.
Begin by scheduling a separate closed-door meeting with each employee. Mention that you’ve noticed the tension between them and ask them to describe the problem as they perceive it. Once you understand each of their perspectives, see if you can formulate a viable solution together. What that needs to be varies depending on the nature of the issue but coming up with a plan isn’t typically challenging.
Make sure to document any decisions that are made during and after the meeting. This creates a functional record, creating something you can refer back to should the need arise. Additionally, if the reason for the conflict is a serious performance or behavioral issue, you have documentation that can support disciplinary action if the employee fails to take meaningful steps towards reaching a resolution.
After creating a path toward peace, you need to keep an eye on the two employees. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to hover or micromanage. Instead, just observe their interactions (and your team as a whole) to see if the level of tension decreases.
It can take some time to see a real shift in how they perceive each other, so don’t expect a big change overnight. However, the amount of tension in the workplace should decrease fairly quickly, particularly if everyone is putting forth the effort necessary to resolve the problem.
Follow Up Regularly
You want to make sure that they are doing their part by working within the plan you set with each of them. If there were tasks associated with the approach, make sure they are being completed. This can involve touching base regularly or having them report their progress to you.
If either employee isn’t living up to their end of the bargain, then schedule another meeting and address the problem. Discuss what is and isn’t working in the plan, and see if any adjustments are required, documenting the changes as needed.
In some cases, the solution itself is fine, and the employee is simply resisting change or having trouble breaking old habits. If this occurs, reiterate the need to follow the plan and document the discussion.
Usually, this kind of approach can create meaningful change, allowing you to craft a more harmonious environment. However, if an employee refuses to improve their performance or correct a behavioral issue, then disciplinary action or termination may be necessary to restore peace in your workplace.