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Stop the Conflict and Get Back to Work

By Guest Author On July 27, 2011 Under Success Secrets

Tension in the workplace is difficult to manage and can make vital productive office time intolerable.   It is near impossible for an office to run effectively if key memebers of the organization are at such an impasse as to border upon a genuine fued.   The disruption must be stopped before it infects seemingly innocent workers.   What can a manager do in such a delicate situation? What if both employees, aside form an obvious personal grudge against the other, are quite profiecent at what they do and don’t just show up for the cheap office supplies and coffee?  Does he/ she just arbitrarily decide to fire one over the other?  Assuming that the disgruntled parties cannot simply be relocated to another area because of limited space or the other, here is the moment that one must play the role of King Solomon and demonstrate wisdom in the face of adversity.

Of course the first step is to attempt to resolve the disagreement with a discussion.   But as most of us alreay know, appealling to one’s sense of rationality is often not enough.  Both parties must be made to sit down and intelligibly communicate their issues with each other with an arbitrator present.  If the conversation begins to take on a more personal angle, the intercessor must refocus the session back to a work related issue.  possibly, this process will  drill drown effectively enough into the root cause as to induce a measure of understanding.  This is not to suggest that once an individual recognizes the source of his/ her displeasure it evaporates, but it does create a strong footing upon which to build. 

Keeping in mind that work must not be made to suffer, the objective is to find an area of agreement that will create an environment conducive to professional conduct.  Allowing others to voice their concerns is acceptable.   Often when an individual is confronted by another directly impacted by the immaturity of their offensive behavior, it is enough to engender the offender back into the fold.

Although appearing a bit childish to some level, rewards for correct conduct should not be immediately dismissed. Perhaps a better parking spot or some other small reward for good behavior would have a tremendous impact.  Furthermore, penalty for wrong behavior or failure to resolve a conflict professionally is still acceptable but truly great results form this methodology are not as impressive.   Threats generally create animosity and it is this negativity that you are trying to eliminate.  Therefore, lean towards the positive reinforcement approaches.

A more drastic and unorthodox measure that has been effectively employed by some, is to video tape the exchanges between the disagreeing workers.  Most people are embarrassed when they witness their childish behavior in action.  Seeing a video just might be enough to produce a lasting resolution.  Tossing office supplies, yelling, and ignoring the other are all sobering events when viewed through the unsympathetic eye of a camera lens.  I’ve seen this used.  I’ve seen it work. 

Business is fragile enough during these trying difficult economic times and therefore does not need the assistance of an upset employee for an even greater obstacle for your company to climb. Instead, business must pool every ounce of energy it can muster in the form of human capital and channel it on creating sustainable growth.  In order to accomplish this, often a competitive environment that fosters healthy competition is the essential ingredient for disruptive workers to focus any emotions.  An us against the world mentality is generally a solid team building exercise.

Eliminating conflict entirely may not be possible, but through discussion, team member input, video evidence, rewards, and competition, it can be minimized and a great work environment restored.

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