How Managers Handle Employee Conflict in the Workplace


Knowing how to handle employee conflict in the workplace is critical if you’re the boss. You might not want the responsibility but if you’re in a leadership role, this will come down on you at some point so it’s best to be prepared.

How to Handle Employee Conflict in the Workplace

If you’re in a leadership role, or hope to be, it’s imperative that you know how to handle employee conflict in the workplace. You’ll not only need to pass on your conflict-resolution skills to your employees in an effort to keep them self-regulating when appropriate, but you’ll also need to step in and take on a mediator role when employees are unable to reach solutions on their own. Here are some simple steps to help mitigate overwhelming conflict and maintain productive relationships between employees.

Let People Talk It Out

Knowing how to handle employee conflict in the workplace means, first and foremost, having patience. When people are upset about something, they need to speak up and get it off their chest. It is true that allowing people to share their side of the story can momentarily escalate the conflict and increase tension, but it’s an important step in long-term resolution. People need to feel heard and validated in order to become more effective in communication and teamwork. You’ll be hard-pressed to get collaboration toward a solution if no one gets to share their side, so take a step back and let each side tell their story.

Provide a Reality Check

When emotions arise in conflict, it can be easy for those involved to hone in their focus on little things and blow them out of proportion. As a mediator, an important role is to help people back away and gain some perspective on the bigger picture. This may actually help new solutions become visible and possible where they wouldn’t have been before.

Identify the Real Issue

A conflict between two employees example may include miscommunication or disagreement on how a project should be completed but is often not just about what’s on the surface. There’s usually an underlying issue that’s not always easy to spot. Finding that underlying issue can help solve the problem and help prohibit it from arising again in the future.

Know When to Take Control

When you learn how to handle conflict in the workplace, you’ll start to recognize when issues can be resolved on their own and when you’ll have to step in to referee. It might not be the most exciting part of your job, but it’s an important one. Recognize when conflict keeps occurring between the same people and take appropriate steps to ensure they’re keeping a distance from each other if they can’t figure out how to get along.

If you need help improving your leadership approach and learning how to handle conflict in the workplace, let Pollack Peacebuilding be your resource. We collaborate with individuals and groups on solutions to inevitable and common interpersonal disputes that arise under stressful work environments so that you can work together toward common goals. Contact us today!

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