“We're just going to get the two of them in a room and tell them to act like adults.”
Has this ever worked?
The reason it rarely works is that pushing aside emotions to get along isn't something as humans that we do easily. We want employees to work out their issues and be self-sufficient in regulating their emotions on their own without managerial intervention.
There are times though when that approach is not sufficient. How does the employer best act as a mediator?
Tips on hosting a conflict conversation:
Let them speak. Start with 1-on-1. Let them tell you their story, emotions and all. As you listen, ask questions to find the root of the conflict. Most of the time, when there is conflict amongst peers, they already know what the root of the issue is. Helping that surface will give a greater chance to the conflict not continuing or increasing.
Focus the conversation. Focus on “I feel…” statements rather than “You did…” statements. It is likely that individuals who come into these problems have communications issues already. Teaching them how to communicate through conflict will be part of the process.
Uncover the root. Discussing the most recent conflict will not help future issues from being prevented. Why do these individuals not see eye to eye? Is it a one time issue? Or is there an underlying attitude that must be dealt with.
A resolution doesn't necessarily mean agreement of position. With a solution as to how to positively move forward, it is acceptable to agree to disagree.
As part of the conversation, make sure all parties are clear on the confidentiality and non-retaliation aspect of the conversation. It is to be maintained during and after amongst all those involved.
Whether the issue is minor or major, make sure you document the incident. Over time you will forget individual conversations, but by recording them you may notice certain behaviours re-emerging and repeat offenders negatively impacting your workspace.
Finally, remember you are the model by which your employees conduct themselves. In your actions, words, and decisions, your employees will mirror your behaviour. Make sure you have high expectations of your own conduct and do not expect from your employees that which you don’t require of yourself.
Have an employee situation that is more complex than you typically deal with? Give us a call. We can help determine the next steps and positive solutions.
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