Workplace conflict is a serious problem that employers must rectify immediately. Just how serious is it?
A hostile work environment can cause employees to quit their jobs, which costs employers a lot of money in terms of lost productivity and hiring costs. If employees in your household are clashing and you're not sure how handle the situation, here are several ways you could help get the problem under control.
"It's dangerous to think that problems will work themselves out."
1. Solve the problem quickly
If members of your team aren't getting along, you must solve the problem quickly. If you don't, it could disrupt other team members, which could increase their stress and reduce their productivity. If the problem continues and worsens, employees may even leave your household for one that has a better work environment.
It's dangerous to think that problems will work themselves out. They rarely do. Time doesn't heal everything – especially in the workplace. If you've hired an estate manager, he or she is in charge of diffusing conflicts. If you don't have an estate manager on staff, consider yourself head of the household.
2. Ask employees to discuss differences
Before stepping into the middle of a conflict, your first step might be to simply instruct the employees to work out their differences. If the employees agree, follow up with both soon after and ask them how they decided to resolve the issue. Don't be shy about asking these questions either! In a personal setting outside of work, this might be considered intrusive, but in a workplace setting it's appropriate.
If employees can't come to an agreement, or you feel the situation is to dangerous and therefore it's best they don't meet one-on-one, you'll need to mediate.
3. Be a great mediator
Knowing how to mediate comes down to three things: Knowing how listen, when to talk and what to say.
There's no hard rule on how to mediate a conflict between one or more employees, but here's a suggestion:
- Meet with both employees in one-on-one settings if the conflict has turned destructive. Discuss the situation without placing judgment. Your goal here should be to gather information.
- If it's safe, discuss the problem with both employees in an open setting. Let them speak first, and gather additional information.
- At the end of the group meeting, come to a conclusion on how best to resolve the problem. You and the employees may collectively come to a decision or you may have to make an executive order with the best interests of your team in mind.
"When you're talking with your employees, get to the root of the problem."
4. Discuss the core problem
When you're talking with your employees, get to the root of the problem. What does this mean exactly? Here's an example:
Two chefs in a home constantly argue, and they're complaining about each other to their coworkers, which is causing the latter to become stressed out. When their supervisor sits the chefs down to discuss the problem, the employees list off a number of issues they have with each other. This is the perfect time for the supervisor to step back from the issue and try to figure out how their quarrel began.
There could be a number of reasons these two employees don't get alone. They could both be competitive and have different personality types. They might have different cooking styles – one might clean up as he or she cooks while the other washes the dishes after. Or one chef could be less communicative than the other, which makes cooking meals difficult. It's up to the manager to figure out the core problem. From there, they can come up with a resolution.