Five ways to manage employee conflict

April 05, 2022

The task of the multitude of responsibilities and challenges that come from running a business is overwhelming. The last thing any small business owner wants to focus their energy on is resolving a disagreement between their employees.

Small business owners need to know how to quickly and efficiently handle employee conflicts. When small business owners can effectively resolve employee conflicts, they can control the conflicts from growing into significant company issues. This allows them to return their attention in minimal time to where it is needed most.

Some conflicts are necessary to ensure a business continues operating smoothly. Disputes between employees that prevent them from completing their work are never encouraged.

Small business owners need to be prepared to assist in resolving employee conflicts. It is necessary to guarantee that their businesses can continue to thrive.

Here are five ways to manage employee conflict:

1. Promote conflict transparency

When employees find themselves stuck in a conflict, many may hesitate to get their bosses involved. Employees may fear that they could face negative repercussions for coming forward with a battle. Tension and hostility could increase. Unresolved conflicts and misunderstandings could impact productivity and employee engagement. Unresolved conflict affects employees’ ability to perform their jobs successfully and engage as a team. Small business owners must encourage employees to come to them with their disputes, ensuring they will not face retribution. If small business owners can intervene in employee conflicts before they begin to affect their work performances, they can provide the well-being of their businesses will not be affected.

2. Take into account all sides of the conflict.

When small business owners attempt to resolve a conflict between their employees, they must listen to all sides of the story. Small business owners must evaluate what each party explains to be the problem to avoid being accused of picking sides or favoring one employee over another. By weighing all sides of the conflict, they can remain neutral in the situation while encouraging their employees to discuss the issue until they reach a solution openly.

3. Consider repeat conflicts

Conflicts between employees may be one-time situations. If two employees, who are typically non-confrontational, have a minor disagreement, talk it over, and quickly put it behind them, this is likely one of those scenarios. However, this is not the case for all employee conflicts.

Small business owners must be aware of the employees who repeatedly get into disagreements.

These employees likely use any opportunity to argue, whether over a lost pen, incorrectly filed document, or simply neglecting to say good morning to each other. When the same employees continue to find themselves in conflicts with one another, small business owners must understand that these employees likely do not have a severe problem. Instead, these employees are not cohesive and will take any opportunity to show it. Small business owners should encourage employees with conflicts of this nature to work through their problems on their own unless there is a severe issue preventing them from completing their work.

4. Pay attention to the severity of the conflict.

When employees cannot resolve a conflict on their own, and small business owners have to step in to manage the situation, they must consider the severity of the battle. Employees may approach their bosses for help addressing conflicts that range from arguments over a misplaced document to incidents of workplace harassment. Small business owners must understand when the parties should resolve their issues independently and when intervention is necessary. Small business owners should always look to their business policies for conflicts as they will give them insight into how to deal with the situation. For example, a small business should have policies that help employers deal with instances of workplace harassment between employees.

5. Offer advice on a fair solution.

A small business owner should listen to all sides involved in the conflict. Managers and owners should determine if the employees can adequately handle the conflict independently or need outside assistance. Employers should work with the employees involved to create a solution. Each employee should take turns offering solutions they believe would help solve the problem. The collaboration will allow them to return to their work comfortably. The small business owner can then help the employees incorporate aspects of their solutions into a final resolution that they feel fulfills their needs and wants. Once a solution is implemented, it is suitable for small business owners to check in on the employees involved in the conflict. They should do so to ensure they stay on the path toward complete resolution.

Employee conflicts are inconvenient for the individuals involved and the small business owners tasked with solving them.

Employees must feel comfortable coming to their bosses for help resolving a conflict. However, they should not abuse their willingness to help.

Employees who frequently come to their bosses over arguments with the same co-worker are distracting their employer from more pressing issues.

When employees conflict with one another, their quality of work suffers. The overall well-being of the business they work for can be negatively impacted.

Small business owners must become proficient at quickly managing employee conflicts to ensure their businesses can continue operating successfully.

PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please contact us at 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!