Managing Staff Conflict


The expression that your staff is your most valuable asset holds especially true for a small business. If you have a team, you will also soon realise that managing them is somewhat like having a family: not everyone is going to get along all of the time. In a larger organisation these kinds of conflicts are handled by the HR department. In the absence of this luxury, it falls on you as the business owner to smooth the waters and get everyone pulling in the same direction.

Here are four tips to help you manage staff conflict:

Get to the heart of the matter:The first step is to identify the problem by meeting, privately, with the staff members not seeing eye-to-eye. Your job here is to listen. Give each person the opportunity to air his or her grievance in a mature, non-confrontational way.

Find a way to work it out: Give employees the opportunity to suggest their own solution to the grievance. They would obviously both have to agree to the proposed solution. Your job is to mediate and find common ground that is acceptable to both parties.

Monitor the situation:Keep an eye on the situation, but also engage with your employees separately to hear whether the solution is resolving the problem. Then, schedule a follow-up session with both employees after a few weeks to get feedback on their progress in resolving their issues.

There is no ‘I’ in team: Building and maintaining a cohesive work force is never an easy task. It is your responsibility to build that feeling of unity. There are many ways to do so - through team-building exercises, regular out-of-office activities or internal competitions. You may not always be able to negate inter-personal conflicts, but these will be less damaging to your business if these can be set-aside in the interests of the business.

Key take-away: Staff conflict is especially damaging to a small business. Nip these in the bud by taking prompt action to resolve inter-personal differences.

Image courtesy of [Free Digital Photos] /

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