Workplace squabbles will occasionally pop up in any office. As a variety of different personality types interact day in and day out, it’s only natural that not everyone will get along. Typically, these disagreements will work themselves out, but when major issues arise, you may have to step in. Although resolving disagreements between employees isn’t fun, it is a necessary part of your management responsibilities if you want to keep the company running smoothly.
Knowing When to Step In
Not every employee disagreement requires your intervention. In fact, the majority of office squabbles are over trivial matters that don’t impact the way your employees handle their responsibilities or interact with each other. These normally stem from the petty frustrations of being trapped with someone in close quarters for the majority of the week. Other problems may arise from employees who are friends outside of the office. These issues often run their course over a week or two and things get back to normal.
The times where you need to step in are those fights between employees that affect the way employees do their jobs. While not everyone must get along all the time, they must be able to meet their obligations to the company. Generally speaking, it’s time to step in when:
- Customer service begins to decline
- Daily tasks are not completed on time
- Other employees are being pulled into the fight
- Other employees complain about the tension in the air
- Physical altercations occur
- You receive customer complaints
- Your office turns into an uncomfortable place to be more often than not
The most important part of resolving disagreements between employees is to stay impartial, fair and discreet. Call the individuals into your office one at a time to find out what’s happening from their perspective. Unless you need more information from an employee who wasn’t part of the dispute, avoid discussing the matter with others. It will only fuel office gossip.
Once you have the facts, bring both people into your office at the same time and encourage them to work out their differences before leaving the room. Your job isn’t necessarily to fix the issue for them, more to stress how their problems are impacting the business and stress that it cannot continue after they leave the room. In the event the discussion escalates angrily, step in to remind them that their actions aren’t helping to remedy the situation.
Whenever an employee disagreement spreads to other staff, consider calling a staff meeting to get everything out in the open. Make sure everyone who has something to say gets an opportunity to speak, but step in if it becomes clear everyone is only interested in bashing a coworker. At the close of the meeting, stress that everyone starts fresh once the meeting is over and things need to go back to business as usual.