4 Poor Ways to Manage Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict is part of any work environment. How issues are managed can either improve the work environment or make it a less-than-pleasant place to go five or more days a week. Review poor ways to manage conflict in the workplace below to help you sidestep common mistakes.

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Ignoring the Problem

As a manager, it can be easy to sweep employee conflicts under the proverbial rug. However, doing so is a direct path to more tension…and more conflicts. Not only does the issue between two or more employees fail to get resolved, it makes team members feel like you care about the bottom line and that’s it. Even if employees resolve the problem among themselves, they won’t appreciate your perceived attitude. This can result in “disgruntled employee” issues that affect productivity, revenue streams, and the overall office environment.

Rather than ignoring a coworker conflict, face it head-on. Even if you do not have time to deal with it right away, acknowledge the problem and schedule meetings with the affected party. If you can schedule said meetings the next day or within the week, that is ideal. It prevents feelings about the issue from festering and creating more tension.

Talking About the Issue in Front of Other Managers and Employees

Discussing the conflict with non-involved parties is unprofessional. It makes you look like a gossip, not an authority figure dedicated to maintaining a professional, harmonious workplace. Talking about the problem with people who have nothing to do with it can also make them uncomfortable. They might question their respect for you as a result.

When dealing with any workplace conflict, no matter how minor or major, it is essential to do so behind closed doors. “Airing dirty laundry” can embarrass the people involved and creates an unprofessional vibe. Other managers and coworkers might feel they can gossip, which causes more strife and tension. Keep conflict resolution efforts as private as possible to avoid all of these issues.

Failing to Inform HR, If Applicable

Sometimes, a conflict is an extremely serious matter related to bullying or harassment. If you do not inform the proper parties, such as those in your office’s Human Resources Department, you will be seen as negligent. What’s worse, doing nothing can come across as condoning harassment or bullying.

Rather than possibly putting your job and reputation in jeopardy, let the right people know about the issue immediately. Part of your work is protecting your employees and ensuring they feel comfortable. If they do not for any reason, they should be able to come to you and express their issues. Make this clear to everyone in the workplace, including all new hires. It indicates your zero tolerance party for any type of harassment or bullying. And depending on the type of problem, it might be best to suspend or terminate the offending employee(s).

Taking Sides

You might have favorite employees, and that is fine. What is not fine is displaying any type of favoritism, especially when conflicts are involved. The best ways to manage conflict in the workplace always include impartiality. If you are objective, the team members will feel comfortable and be more forthright about the issue.

To help you stay impartial, remind yourself that you are a professional and that the workplace is not an environment for favoritism. Everyone has the right to promotions and assorted recognitions, regardless of your personal feelings. Think of the workplace as a level playing ground to help you in this way.

For more about healthy ways to manage conflict in the workplace, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems for services and resources today!

Kent McGroarty

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