The more employees a business has, the more likely it is that some of them may not get along. While minor disputes are easily handled by trained management, there are times when employee infighting becomes an issue that seems too large to handle without proper mediation or a firing.
So, how can management be prepared to handle fighting employees? There are a few things your organization needs to know in order to handle these problems before they explode into a lawsuit. Here are 5 tips to help keep the peace.
1. Understand the Conflict
It’s easy to make an assumption about the nature or context of the fight, but it’s vital that management get to the bottom of any disagreements. Speak with the involved employees and practice active listening to see what the underlying circumstances are. It could be stress from tight deadlines, differing work styles, a troublesome client, or even workplace gossip.
If this is an EEOC issue, then the intent of the behavior no longer matters. Instead, harassment and discrimination focus on how behavior is perceived. In these cases, it’s best that you work with your HR department. You might also want to speak with a lawyer familiar in employee issues. If you’re unsure of where to look, the Law Office of Omid Nosrati handles employment law cases like these.
2. End the Fight ASAP
Not every workplace tiff will work itself out, which is why you need to take action before the impact your work environment. You may act as a mediator yourself or rely on a mediator from HR to help settle the dispute in a way that works for both parties. It’s also vital that you hold employees accountable for unacceptable behavior.
3. Hit the Employee Handbook
How does your company ask you to deal with disputes like these? Every business has a list of policies and procedures on resolving conflict. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with the appropriate course of action handed down from upper management.
4. Record it All
Never miss an opportunity to record these conflicts and incidents. It’s vital for HR as well as any legal troubles that may ensue. Any attempts to speak with the employees in question should be written down with their dates and what was discussed. Don’t leave anything out, either. Each record should include the who, what, when, where, and how along with any resolutions your employees agreed on.
5. Lead by Example
Communication is often the root of the issue, which is why it’s vital that you teach your employees how to communicate effectively. Training sessions and team meetings go a long way here, but you also need to lead by example.
As you work on your communication skills, you employees will pick up on the new flow. At the same time, you want to show your employees that you treat everyone fairly, with respect, and create a positive environment that fosters integrity. The best way to change company culture starts from within on the managerial level.