It doesn’t matter the size of your business or the nature of your industry, at some point there will be conflict in your office or department. If it’s an occasional flare-up, you probably shouldn’t overreact to it. If it’s a chronic problem, however, you need to eliminate it quickly. Continuous conflict usually has a detrimental effect on morale, employee retention, productivity, and, of course, your bottom line.
Conflict comes in several guises, the most common forms being gossiping, arguing, and direct altercations. It often starts with a real or alleged offense. If it isn’t quickly defused, it can spread and infect the rest of your workplace with poor communication, resentment, and increased stress.
Here are two ways to eliminate (or at least effectively minimize) conflict at your office:
Put an end to gossip
Talk to the specific gossiper in private. During this meeting, try to make the person understand the harm that the gossiping is doing. Use your leverage as a manager to point out that this behavior, if it continues, will result in a written warning placed in the personnel file, time off, demotion, or dismissal.
Next, meet with your team and help them understand the ramifications of negative gossip. Work with them to change the workplace culture by encouraging positive gossip. Make sure you and your managers are setting a good example by modeling the behavior you expect from them. In other words, you should not gossip, either.
Finally, it’s usually not a good idea to send out a company-wide memo to the effect that gossiping won’t be tolerated. This approach is much less effective than confronting the perpetrators one-on-one. That way, it doesn’t appear that you’re chastising the innocent along with the guilty.
Get rid of the elephant in the room
The elephant in the room is that awkward presence that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about because it’s too uncomfortable. The elephant is often caused when a worker or group of workers believes that something is true. And while it might or might not be true, it has a negative effect on everyone’s performance.
For instance, one of your team members makes a decision without running it by the entire team. The other team members assign motives to this action without the benefit of solid information, the assumption becomes truth, and it influences the team’s action.
The elephant enters the room.
To rid your workplace of it, you must identify it and talk to the group involved, allowing them to talk through their perceptions (or misperceptions). Each side must be willing to both talk and listen. There may even be a need for apologies. (A tip for those involved: There’s nothing wrong with apologizing even if you believe you’re not in the wrong!)
With this open and conciliatory dialogue, you should be able to vanquish the elephant quickly.
Less conflict starts with good employees
Focus of Georgia is here to assist you to improve your business. We’ll work with you to find the best employees, including top-notch managers. Contact us. We are eager to see how we can help your business grow.