How can workplace problems be handled and resolved?

Natalia HongNatalia Hong
Last updated on:
August 8, 2022
Published on:
August 8, 2022

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Unresolved workplace conflicts can lead to a breakdown of employer-employee trust  and can be expensive since it may disrupt workforce operations, reduce employee productivity and lower employee morale, all of which may have an impact on the business. When managers act quickly to resolve conflicts between co-workers, or between themselves and co-workers, these detrimental effects of workplace conflict can be considerably reduced or avoided. 

What can managers do to stop workplace problems from getting worse?

Act quickly: Managers frequently hold out hope that a conflict will end or get better soon. The truth is that disagreement frequently becomes worse over time. Unresolved disputes can simmer for days, weeks, or even months before erupting at a later date. Or it might cause employees to retreat, grow bitter, and lose motivation. One of the key reasons why problems at work keep getting worse is managers' tendency to avoid conflict. Unresolved disagreements are a significant factor in the filing of formal or informal claims or grievances. 

Obtain as much information as you can: It is common for people to have different accounts of what has actually happened. Managers should take an individual account from each person as each individual will have a different perception of events. Managers should also avoid taking sides or making judgements to prevent the situation from getting worse. 

Decide whether extra help is necessary: Managers should then decide if they are able to mediate between the parties involved themselves if extra help is required, they should refer to HR or qualified mediators for assistance.

Scheduling meetings in a busy office can be challenging, as such managers should make sure that resolving the conflict is a priority. In general, it is more difficult and costlier to resolve a conflict the longer it lasts. Managers should also maintain regular communication with the parties involved if they are unable to rapidly resolve the problem. This will ensure they feel supported and reassured that finding a solution to their dispute is a priority.

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How can managers resolve a conflict between employees?

Speak to the parties involved separately: Managers should identify the main issues for each person during these private and confidential individual discussions. They should also keep an eye out for what they think each person needs, for example, improved communication, empathy, understanding, and additionally try to identify any areas of agreement, for instance, they are both committed to the organisation. 

Have a meeting with both parties together: Managers should request a brief summary of each person's main points. This is necessary to make sure that everyone feels heard during the meeting. By creating a conducive environment for their team's good communication, simple workplace disputes can be settled swiftly by encouraging each team member to voice the issues they believe are most important. Since the initial meeting, they might have had a change of heart. If so, managers should follow what they suggested at the second meeting as without their permission or advice, the manager runs the risk of escalating the conflict by bringing up something from the previous meeting. The manager should also be careful to give each person's issues the same consideration and time, as this makes it clear to them that they are neutral and in favour of both parties.

Encourage discussion between everyone before ending the meeting: It is crucial that the parties involved feel understood. This ensures that there are multiple points of view presented. Any decisions made on resolutions must be implemented. Managers can assist their co-workers in determining the viability of their solutions. 

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