How To Manage Conflict Between Employees
People are fickle and workplaces can be stressful. If there’s a looming deadline or large project, tensions will surely rise and someone’s worst side can surface. And when a conflict arises between two employees, HR will have to step in and serve as a mediator.
Since this can be a stressful and potentially exhausting situation, we have come up with our own guide to managing conflict between employees.
Let Everyone Breathe
Did the argument arise during a meeting? Or did it happen spontaneously during a casual lunch? Whatever happened, it is important that both parties have a moment to breathe.
Before you schedule any meetings with the two employees, let them unwind for a few hours so they don’t go into it superheated.
After you’ve given both employees time to breathe, reach out to each of them separately via Slack. Try to schedule a meeting by either the end of the day or early in the morning.
If the employees turn down the offer, stress upon them that this isn’t about reprimanding them but rather about making sure their conflict doesn’t become a distraction for the entire team.
Meet With Them Individually
If the conflict was super public, it could be helpful to suggest having an inconspicuous meeting out of the office. Schedule a coffee shop meeting with one employee in the morning and then a lunch meeting afterwards.
During the meeting, ask them these questions:
- Is there anything happening in your personal life that we should be aware of?
- What do you think triggered this conflict?
- What would you like the employee to do differently?
- How do you see your relationship with this employee moving forward?
- How can management help you get along with employee better?
Make sure to take thorough notes during both meetings.
Synthesize The Conflict
After meeting with both employees, you’re head might be spinning. You just spent a couple hours delving into a frustration situation — you can surely use a break. Take some time for yourself to gather your thoughts.
After a quick break, gather all your notes and write a succinct analysis of the conflict. You might have to send this document to your CEO or other higher-ups, so make sure it is well-rounded.
Meet With Both Employees
You should schedule a meeting with both employees before the weekend. It’s best that before the next work week starts, this conflict is resolved so it’s no longer a distraction.
Before the meeting starts, set some ground rules but don’t be overly patronizing. At the end of the day, these are two adults who are having a conflict not two kids at daycare.
Have both employees air their grievances but step in if they start being sarcastic or call one another names. The goal of this meeting is to alleviate the tension and come up with a path to move forward.
Suggest that both employees check in with one another to ensure that the conflict doesn’t bubble up again.
How many times have you had to pretend like everything is okay only for the problem to resurface a few weeks later? Admit it: we all lie sometimes. And other times, it’s less about lying and more about saving face.
During the meeting with you and the employees, they could pretend like everything is fine but really still be filled with rage. That’s why it’s crucial for you to follow up throughout the next few weeks to ensure that both employees aren’t headed towards another conflict.
Send them occasional Slack messages to check in. If the conflict happens again, it might be time to come up with a new solution and set up some boundaries between the two employees.
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