If you run a family business, you know more than anyone that learning skills for handling employee conflict is a must in order for a business to run smoothly. Conflict is a normal thing to occur in any work environment, but when your co-workers are also family members, the stakes have nowhere to go but up.

Handling Employee Conflict

You might be asking what is conflict management and how can I apply it when the people in dispute are relatives? and that’s a fair question, especially with so much on the line. But learning the best way of handling employee conflict in your family business isn’t as hard as you may think. Having these skills on hand when you don’t need them will make them all the more powerful in action when you do. Here are some ways to make sure the inevitable family drama doesn’t impede your business’ reputation, customer base, or bottom line:

1. Act Quickly and Firmly

One of the most well-known strategies for conflict resolution is to act fast and not let negative emotions or tensions boil for too long. A leader in the business should step up and offer firm but compassionate directives to those involved in the conflict to deescalate things. This may require separating two employees.

2. Regulate Your Emotions

Having basic conflict management skills can take you a long way in not letting your emotions get the best of you when a family is at odds, but your emotions will still arise. It’s important to recognize these emotions and process them outside of the conflict itself. In other words, address your emotions before or after addressing the dispute itself and be careful not to let past feelings inform your approach.

3. Stay on Topic

Handling employee conflict in the family business requires that you stay clean of unrelated matters. In other words, you may still be angry at your brother for what happened on Thanksgiving, but when you are handling a specific conflict at work it’s important to stay clear of bringing up past and personal arguments. Keeping the conversation on task and not bringing up old wounds is necessary for any remedy to stick.

4. Consult a Neutral Party

Because disputes among family members are often so emotionally charged, it can be in the best interest of the family and the business to bring in a neutral third party who can remain objective while guiding you and your family towards the right solution. Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions offers support with family business conflict resolution and can provide that neutral third party you’ve been looking for. Using a neutral third party can help with any common roadblocks to communication and keep things moving smoothly.

5. Be Transparent About Job Roles

Among the most effective strategies for conflict resolution is conflict prevention. In cases of family businesses, being transparent about job roles and expectations can help diffuse some of the tension that arises over pecking order. With overlapping and emotionally-charged relationships already in the workplace due to relational connections, setting clear expectations in the future can help keep things from escalating. This can be especially important during an active conflict because someone will have to take the lead in finding a resolution, and that should be a more senior member of the company. Understanding conflict in the family business and all of its complex layers can assist in preventing future disputes.

You don’t have to tackle handling employee conflict on your own. Get support from unbiased professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions today to get the right kind of resolution for your family.

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