Inevitably in every workplace, two people will end up disagreeing about something. Perhaps it is a disagreement on a policy, or maybe they just have personalities that clash. Regardless, it is not healthy to allow tension in the workplace. As a leader, it is your responsibility to act as a mediator when possible, to stop conflict from arising unnecessarily. To do this, follow these steps:
Step 1: Determine the problem.
This step may require some difficult conversations, but it is crucial to sit down with each person individually to determine what the problem really is. Be aware that the problem may be larger than anticipated, and in the event of harassment or threats, be sure to contact HR. However, if the issue is a matter of personality, find out what events took place and what the catalyst was. Write down everything, and try your best to put together a picture of what happened. Ask questions to get to the truth, as best as you can.
Step 2: Plan to take action.
Once you know what the situation entails, you will have to take appropriate steps to rectify it. This may include a mediation session, or you might have to take disciplinary action, depending on the severity. Speak with your manager for advice if you do not have a particular plan in mind. Again, if more serious action needs to take place, such as a written warning or a suspension, involve HR in your preparation.
Step 3: Carry out the next steps.
Once you know what to do and have prepared fully, it is time to hold meetings to address the issue. The meeting might need everyone involved, if it is a situation that should be hashed out. If there is any disciplinary action, this should happen in a one-on-one meeting, or with HR. Make sure to document what happened at the meeting, whether good or bad.
Step 4: Reevaluate the situation.
A week or two later, sit down each person individually and see if the situation has been resolved. If it hasn’t, it may be worthwhile to look into alternatives to address the issue. However, take this opportunity to listen more than speak and find out how everyone truly feels. Follow up again if need be.
As you can see, it is a simple process to follow to work through arguments. However, the actual discussions are the difficult part, so be prepared for some serious conversations. Although it may be difficult, you can help your team move past these tense times and into a place where everyone can respect each other.