When there’s conflict between certain employees it can have an effect on the productivity and employee morale. Every business has its share of internal drama and politics, some businesses more than others. However it is important that you monitor the health of your employee dynamics and try to limit the drama and politics when some or all of your employees don’t get along.
So what are your options if you have employees that don’t get along? First of all don’t ignore the situation hoping it will go away. If you do then the situation may become toxic for your company causing your productivity to start falling off which will have an impact on your bottom line.
Encourage employees to work it out
Sometimes it is better if the problem is solved between the employees themselves. You are a boss not their mother and this is a place of business, not a kindergarten. Encourage your employees to manage their issues on their own like mature adults. Employees are expected to be self-sufficient and get along with each other. Use your judgment wisely when it comes to addressing issues like these.
Don’t ignore the problem
Only if they are unable to do so, then you should step in considering the severity of the problem. First determine whether the situation is emotionally charged and the severity of the conflict. Listen to both sides and ask meaningful questions to figure out the situation. When you’ve assessed the issue, if appropriate, talk to each employee to let them know that you’re aware of the situation. You should also encourage open communication and resolution among employees. Ask them if they feel comfortable going to the other employee and handling it one-on-one.
Understand that many people don’t like confrontation, so they may need guidance on how to approach the other person. Hold them accountable for their actions and for resolving the issue.
Write it up / document it
It is important that you document all workplace incidents. This will help you monitor behavior over time and keep an eye out for repeat offenders. Documenting incidents can also protect your business should a disgruntled employee try to take you to court. Always write down all details from each situation an employee has had. Ensure that your write-up is fact-based and that you keep a copy in all involved employees’ files. Make sure to include all the details, who, what, when, where and how, as well as the resolution to which all parties agreed and committed to.
Consult your employee handbook / Work thru the company’s processes
Determining right from wrong may mean reviewing your company policies. If you have an employee handbook check to see if it has guidelines for appropriate conduct and/or conflict resolution. Severe instances of conflict may be categorized as harassment or discrimination so your handbook may contain these policies as well as directions on how to file a complaint.
To offer a fair resolution, you’ll need to make sure your decision is aligned with your company policy. No employee should be above the rules set forth in the workplace. Letting an employee slide when they’ve clearly gone against the rules will weaken your authority. And going forward may cause other situations if it seems you are favoring one employee over another. It is important to be consistent with all your employees.
Set consequences if things don’t change
If things still aren’t improving at then you may have to get specific. Say some version of, “I still believe you can turn this around. Here’s what turning it around would look like. If I don’t see that behavior by x date, here’s what will happen” and give the example of “you’ll be let go,” or “ you will be put on warning,” or “you won’t be eligible for a promotion” . You have to give them some substantive negative consequence if the situation continues. If problem employees don’t believe their behavior will have any real negative impact on them, why would they change?
Keep an eye on them and make sure that the situation is being resolved. If things do not improve see if you can separate the employees and let them know that they will go through a probation period and if by the end of the period they still cannot get along then you will need to consider more drastic measures to eliminate the problem.