If you’re a business owner with employees, you probably already know that conflict is inevitable. Learning how to deal with those conflicts when they arise is important to ensure your business continues to thrive. The following strategies will help you confidently deal with conflict when it does arise.
- Investigate. Use your detective skills to do some investigating to learn the backstory. Be sure you listen to all sides and dig deep to find the root of the problem. Sometimes what appears to be the tension point, is really just a symptom of a larger problem. Ask questions in an unbiased way until you are sure you have a good understanding of the situation.
- Focus. It’s difficult to change people, so instead, focus on what you can change to resolve or reduce the conflict. Then work on finding a longer-term resolution. Can the employees work different shifts? Can they work in different areas where interactions are a minimum? Is the problem a communication issue? Are there clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and results that each person is accountable for? Do they understand how each one fits into the bigger picture of the company’s success?
- Resolution. Many times acting as a mediator to facilitate an open dialogue between people can resolve (and prevent) conflict. It’s true that everyone is going through something. Facilitating a conversation can provide understanding and empathy between parties. Even if the parties cannot agree, it may lead to them finding another solution.
- Set boundaries. Remember that this is your business and your investment. You are allowed to set boundaries and consequences for crossing them. You also can make the final decision on how the conflict will get resolved. Remember to communicate your expectations to your employees in a clear way so there is no room for interpretation or misunderstanding. You don’t want to add to the conflict by creating confusion.
- Monitor and follow up. Perhaps you’ll get lucky, and one conversation is all it takes to stop the problem. Our experience is that you will need to follow up with your employees. You will want feedback on how your employees felt the situation was handled and if it has truly been resolved. A good leader needs to know when they are getting it right or missing the mark. It also sets a good example for your employees on how to accept constructive criticism.
Managing a business is tough. Managing employees makes it even tougher. Your employees represent your business in and out of the workplace, so when conflict arises it’s essential to know how to handle it effectively – for your employees, you, and your business.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to conflict resolution. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to workplace disagreements. Your employees will appreciate that you took the time to understand and find the best resolution for the situation. It conveys that you appreciate and value them as a vital asset of your business.
As a leader of your business, you are a role model for your employees. Teaching them and showing them respect will, in turn, earn you respect and help you guide your employees toward managing your business as you would. Having trustworthy employees leaves you with more time to focus on other aspects of your business and other goals you may have.
Empowered Leadership helps businesses find freedom through business coaching, executive coaching, assessments, and training. Stacie is an entrepreneur who helps business leaders balance their time to run an effective business and enjoy their life.