5 Tips for Mediating Employee Conflict
Dan Levenson September 12, 2017
As a small business owner, we’re sure you’d love it if all your employees got along all the time.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way!
When you find yourself dealing with employee conflict, sometimes mediation is in order. These strategies will help you constructively resolve conflict in your workplace.
1. Know When to Intervene
It’s not necessary to mediate issues every single time a couple of your employees have a minor squabble. The day-to-day tensions of working together will typically ebb and flow over time, and you don’t have to step in for fleeting disagreements that everyone will soon move past.
On the other hand, long-term conflict needs to be dealt with quickly and effectively in order to come to a resolution and create a more peaceful working environment for everyone.
2. Recognize All Parties Involved
If there’s a true conflict in your workplace, it’s usually not just about the two people who are battling. Everyone who has to work with the two of them on a daily basis is impacted by the stress of the conflict.
In looking for a resolution, it may be useful to involve other parties in your workplace—both to help come up with a resolution that works for everyone and to take steps to avoid similar conflicts in the future.
3. Listen for Understanding
If possible, avoid meeting with the two antagonists separately. Instead, bring them together and give them each the opportunity to speak. Don’t try to jump in yourself, and don’t allow them to interrupt one another.
Instead, take the time to listen to what they have to say, increasing your understanding of the whole situation before you interrupt. Try to get the whole story before you start trying to resolve it.
4. Check Your Facts
There are at least three sides to every conflict: what party #1 has to say about it, what party #2 has to say about it, and the truth, which generally falls somewhere in the middle.
That’s not to say that your employees will necessarily lie or exaggerate in order to make their side sound better, but they will automatically view the conflict through the lens of their own experience and their emotions about it. As a result, there may be overreactions and assumptions that don’t necessarily fall in line with the facts.
Do your best to check the facts of the conflict with an outside source. Is one employee always late to work, leaving the second to scramble to cover their duties until they get there? Does one employee take too-long breaks or fail to meet important deadlines? Make sure you have documentation for as many complaints as possible.
5. Don’t Make Emotional Decisions
By the time conflict increases to the point that you feel the need to step in, all parties are pretty emotional about it. It’s essential, however, that you avoid letting emotion guide your decision-making process. Once you’ve taken the time to check the facts, make sure you use them to come to a resolution based on company policies and the type of workplace environment you want to work in every day. Don’t be swayed by one employee’s emotion over another’s!
When you take the time to fully understand the conflict, check your facts, and listen to each employee, you’ll get a better idea of what’s needed to resolve the situation. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your conflict resolution solutions! Many times, what the situation needs most is an unbiased outside perspective.