Destination Directory

Ways to Mediate Friction in the Workplace

Unfortunate as it can be, it's only natural for employees to not get along from time to time.

After all, we're only human. Whether it's a minor difference of opinion or an ongoing issue, follow these guidelines to address conflict within your business and move forward successfully.

If left unaddressed, conflict can seep into other parts of your organization and start to diminish the quality of work you provide for customers and clients.

Seek to understand.
Try not to jump the gun and assume you have all the details. First, determine if any harassment or discrimination is taking place and take appropriate action, if so. If not, try to get to the root of any underlying issues and the factors that may be causing them. Are the issues related to stress? New structural setups? Outside factors?

Give each employee involved in the situation a chance to make their case heard—and really, truly listen to them. If they feel they aren't heard, the chances of them continuing to do quality work or stick around lessen greatly.

Ensuring you get to the bottom of what's really going on is essential to finding a solution, moving forward and preventing it from happening again.

We can work it out.
Self-sufficiency is a highly useful trait. Inspiring employees to take on problem-solving for their own issues will encourage open and honest communication. Be sure to lend some pointers or guidelines if needed, so employees feel equipped to address what's going on with a solution in mind.

Don't delay.
When issues arise, it's best to keep an eye on the situation—especially if it reaches a boiling point where employees can't work it out themselves. Then, it's on you to step in and remind employees that personal accountability is key and disciplinary action could be taken if the dispute isn't resolved immediately. The longer something like this goes on, the more likely it is to interfere with everyone's work.

Remain objective.
Remember your employee handbook? Dust it off and consult it for common-ground rules to help guide you regarding what situations require what response. Remaining steadfast in aligning your decision making with the employee handbook strengthens your authority. Letting things constantly slide is likely to cause resentment and further issues.

It's important to note that coming to a resolution doesn't necessarily mean every party involved agrees with each other; it could mean everyone respectfully agrees to disagree and has met in the middle to move forward—which isn't a bad thing.

Nobody has to be best friends with each other, but the work does need to get done.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.