Although every manager dreams about the perfect and harmonious work environment, that dream is more often that not far from reality. And while not every manager deals with a “worse-case scenario,” there are times when they have to deal with employees who can’t get along, or who genuinely hate each other. Ignoring this problem might seem attractive at first. But the animosity felt among these two employees is more than likely enough fuel to turn your overall healthy working environment into an unhealthy space. As manager, your goal is to create an environment where people can work with one another so that productivity isn’t stifled and no one feels threatened. But how can you do that? Here are some conflict resolution tips to help you maintain a happy and healthy workplace environment.

Coworker Conflict Resolution Tips

No matter how much pre-assessment/screening you implement during the hiring process, coworker conflicts can still occur. That’s because these conflicts can stem from a number of sources, including:

  • Differing backgrounds or social circles
  • A dislike for the way another employee conducts his or her work
  • Trivial factors such as the sound of a person’s voice, or “annoying” habits
  • A comment made in passing that was viewed as offensive

Regardless of the source of the conflict, it’s in your best interest to resolve this matter before it spreads throughout the office.  In fact, there are only a handful of outcomes from coworker conflict, and the choices you make will dictate which outcome occurs. The possible outcomes of coworker conflict include:

  • (Ideal) – The employees settle their differences and move on.
  • (Acceptable) – The employees agree to disagree and move on.
  • (Toxic) – The employees pretend to move on, but harbor ill will, which eventually affects productivity.
  • (Toxic) – One of the employees decides to accept blame, leaving the other to feel as though they “won.”
  • (Toxic) – The situation isn’t resolved quickly, causing not only both employees to leave, but causing rift and doubt among your other workers.

Here’s how to resolve and avoid coworker conflict:

  1. Meet with both coworkers as quickly as possible.
  2. Notify your supervisor of the situation so that they’re not caught off guard later on.
  3. If you feel it’s necessary, contact Human Resources. HR can serve as a mediator and will be needed if disciplinary actions (or possible transfers) are required.
  4. Advocate a positive work environment. Even during this time of conflict, the way you handle the issue will demonstrate to the rest of the office your views on respect, equality, and professionalism.
  5. Maintain an open dialogue with your employees. One popular source for conflicts is the nasty rumor mill. Quell these rumors by freely sharing information with your employees about updates and changes affecting them.
  6. Review policies on email and social media usage. That’s because an angered employee might choose to lash out online (either within or outside of the company). Be sure your employees are clear on what’s acceptable, and the consequences for breaking policy.

Knowing how to handle conflict resolution can be challenging, which is why many people throughout New Zealand, Australia and North America turn to AACT-NOW for support. AACT-NOW offers staff training seminars and workshops designed to help managers – and coworkers – learn how to handle conflicts professionally and swiftly. Contact AACT-NOW today to learn more.


Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/
Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode