Managing Conflict Between Employees: Issues That Can Arise & What to Do About Them

When managing conflict between employees is part of your job, there are times when issues crop up despite your best resolution efforts. Learning how to handle these issues helps you become better at conflict resolution and a more successful manager overall. Review the following scenarios and what you can do to mitigate them.

Free Consultation for Workplace Conflict

Issue One: A Shouting Match

Sometimes, employees discussing the conflict between them get so heated that shouting erupts. The team members might start accusing each other of various wrongdoings, hurl insults, or simply try to talk over (and louder) than the other one. If this occurs, tell the employees to stop immediately. You might need to stand up to get their attention and your point across. Make it clear that the meeting is not so the employees can insult and accuse each other, it is to help both sides see the problem from the other’s perspective and find a resolution.

It often helps to take a break when a conflict management meeting gets too emotional. Ask everyone to take a 10-minute cooldown, which can include getting a drink of water, enjoying some fresh air outdoors, practicing deep breathing techniques, or watching calming videos. Once both parties feel “cool” enough, continue with the meeting to hopefully find the best solution.

Issue Two: Inflammatory Remarks

A conflict resolution meeting does not have to result in shouting to be accusatory or insulting. One team member might purposefully make inflammatory remarks that seem demure or innocent enough, but make the other employee feel upset and increasingly angry. The first team member might hope that the second team member will “snap” and lash out to make them look like the irrational or “crazy” one.

If you notice one team member getting increasingly agitated by the second team member’s words, take a break or change the subject. Perhaps the conversation has gotten off-topic and you need to bring it back around to the actual problem at hand. By navigating the issue in this way, you are quietly yet clearly demonstrating your authority and desire to resolve the problem for good.

Issue Three: Refusing to Compromise

There are instances when one or both team members absolutely, totally, and completely refuse to compromise. The conflict remains unresolved as a result, which can cause further tension and upset. If this happens to you, reschedule the conflict resolution meeting for the next day and provide the team members with solutions to mull over. Remind them that they do not have to like each other to work together and that being civil is essential to a healthy, happy workplace.

If one or both team members still refuses to budge about the resolution, it might be time to utilize professional mediation services. Temporarily onboarding a pro mediator makes it clear to the team members that their refusal to compromise has not gone unnoticed and that resolving the issue is a priority. An objective professional usually allows team members to be more honest and forthcoming, which can help solve the issue quickly and in ways both employees like.

Depending on the size of your workforce, keeping a professional mediator on retainer might be something to suggest. It is not uncommon for team members to feel self-conscious around managers trying to solve a conflict or leave out details they would rather not disclose to management. By allowing a pro mediator to do what they do so well, you are giving team members space to be open and hopefully get to the heart of the issue quickly.

For more about managing conflict between employees, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today!

Kent McGroarty

Copyright © 2022 Pollack Peacebuilding Systems