By Cortney E. Young
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This saying is especially true when you are dealing with feuding employees. Productivity suffers when the dynamic between employees, or perhaps those in the C-level, is off-kilter.
Instead of focusing on the job at hand employees become hyper-focused on the dispute they’re in. As a result, your company loses valuable time and money, exposes itself to negative publicity, and risks the loss of key employees.
When tempers flare, consider deploying these tools to restore peace and your bottom line:
Address the issues quickly. Preventing the situation from escalating demonstrates you take your employees well-being at work seriously. It also solidifies their trust in management.
Encourage Communication. Consider giving the employees who are in conflict a structured opportunity to try and resolve the issues on their own. People want to feel they are being truly heard. Use your judgment as to whether you think this will be productive. You may be unable to facilitate a meeting and, if that is the case, then look to bringing in outside help in your efforts to encourage resolution.
Stay Neutral. It can be difficult to not take sides when your employees feud. However, remaining neutral will create an environment where each employee can feel safe enough to candidly work through their issues without feeling attacked. When people are in a place where they feel safe instead of frightened, they’re better able to make agreements and discuss options that help move them forward.
Pro tip: If one of the employees works more closely with you than the other, bring in someone who can help resolve the dispute and avoid the appearance that you may be taking sides.
Often, companies will send an SOS to human resources. Another tack which is gaining in popularity is to bring in an outside neutral to help even before that point. This low cost and highly confidential option will provide maximum neutrality. There is little risk in trying and in the event it doesn’t work the company can move to its normal policies and procedures.
Conflicts unfortunately are a part of life but they don’t have to cripple your business. With these tips you can tout your leadership ability by demonstrating your concern for your employees and ensure the health of your company.
It’s a big pill to swallow, but a critical one!
Cortney E. Young is a non-attorney mediator at Blanchard, Krasner &French. Her approach to dispute resolution combines years of litigation experience with a pragmatic problem-solving style. Since 2014 she has been resolving a variety of disputes ranging in value from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars. Chat more about healthy tactics for mitigating conflict with Cortney at www.bkflaw.com.