How to Deal with Employee Conflict: A Short Guide for Leaders - PPS


Every business or workplace is going to have some employees who inevitably don’t get along. Avoiding conflict isn’t always possible (or optimal), but utilizing the right tools and truly learning how to deal with employee conflict can prevent a dispute from having major impacts on the company’s bottom line.

How to Deal with Employee Conflict: 4 Tips

Discord in a workplace does not only impact those involved. That’s because work environments are sometimes too close for comfort and the office is typically where we spend most of our day. When negativity arises inside the walls of your headquarters, it can be difficult to avoid the ramifications. Learning how to deal with employee conflict can help extinguish the trouble before it starts taking over the company culture. Here are a few tips.

Act Soon

Timing is important when managing conflict in organizations. As soon as you have evidence that conflict has emerged, step in so the team performance doesn’t suffer. When people are left to their own devices in uncomfortable situations, stress grows. Waiting too long to address important conflict issues can result in negative, ambiguous energy amongst the team which will impact other relationships as well as overall productivity.

Set Boundaries

Learning how to deal with employee conflict doesn’t often come with this piece of advice, but conflict can become more complicated if limitations aren’t addressed. Understand the risks and rewards of conflict resolution and ensure you’re not intervening for the wrong reasons. Coach your employees through the struggle rather than taking on the fight yourself. Observe and report rather than getting too close; this helps you remain objective and not become part of the dueling system you’re trying to break up.

Respect Diversity

It can be tempting to impose some kind of ideology upon others when you’re managing conflict. When we look to maintain homeostasis in our environments, what we’re actually doing is finding ways to control things that are often quite outside of our control. Instead of using your “power” to force a philosophy onto disputing employees, listen. Listen to their beliefs and value systems, and learn to speak their language. Meet your employees where they are and you’ll find that giving them a sense of empowerment does a lot for calming the chaos.

Hold the Tension

Managing conflict in organizations isn’t a job cut out for everyone, and not everyone enjoys it. But even though it may be uncomfortable, confronting the tension head-on can help you and your employees address the situation at hand without emotions, distractions, deflections, and denial, all of which can be an underlying fuel for future conflict. If this sounds uncomfortable for you and you’re in a leadership position, it’s likely a valuable exercise for you to assess your style. How do you deal with conflict in the workplace and do you believe it to be effective? If you find some growing edges in the answer to that question, then it might be time to allow some new growth in your leadership skills.

If you’re a leader in need of support learning how to deal with employee conflict, let Pollack Peacebuilding help. We work with individuals, groups, and partners to collaborate on solutions to common roadblocks to communication, paving the way for long-lasting positive change. Contact us today!

Resolved employee conflict

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