A small business is like a family: everyone has to work together in order for there to be success. However, when you’re working in such close proximity with the same people day after day, it’s often easy to become annoyed or frustrated with certain actions or traits found in your co-workers. Because of this, having problems between employees is almost inevitable at one point or another. But despite the fact that this type of situation is fairly common in almost every work environment the world over, as the employer, it’s not something you want to have happening at your business.
Conflict between employees can result in loss of productivity, negative feelings toward work in general, and even the necessity for costly personnel changes. With all the challenges your business is likely already facing, adding these to the list can make for an even harder time rising above your competition and getting your necessary work done.
To avoid having any one of these problems taking place within your company, it’s vital for you and your human resources person to know what can be done to smooth over any head-butting between your workers. To help with this, here are three tips to encourage harmony and respect at work while dealing with employees who just don’t or can’t get along.
#1. Make Professionalism the Expectation
If two or more of your employees have begun to feud, it’s likely that their idea of what is appropriate at work has slipped out of alignment with your idea of professionalism. When this happens, it’s vital to the integrity of your business to rectify this way of thinking, not only for the health of your business but for the personal progress of your employees as well.
Elise Wile, a contributor to Chron Small Business, shares that employers must explain to their employees that “professionalism is valued and expected.” This reminder, whether done in the form of conflict resolution counseling or interpersonal trainings, will show the feuding workers that their behavior is not acceptable at work and will need to be adjusted in order for them to remain in your employment. While this may seem harsh, a lack of professionalism on the part of two or more employees can lead others to follow in their footsteps, resulting in a complete failure of professionalism for your entire company. When you sense that this situation is arising, it’s best to take steps to readjust this culture immediately.
#2. Relearn Appropriate Communication
Because many workplace issues come as a result of a failure to communicate effectively, simply getting both employees on the same page with regards to how to speak with and to their coworkers could help to turn misunderstandings and hurt feelings around completely. This requires everyone involved in the feud, including management, to be open to change the ways in which they view appropriate communication with all they come in contact with professionally. To specifically alleviate the issues between employees, both must be willing to work through their problems together in order to find resolution; otherwise, any supposed progress made may be in vain.
When they’re ready, Jeff Durham of WorkplaceSafetyAdvice.co.uk advises employers to help their employees relearn what appropriate workplace communication looks and sounds like. As mentioned above, this might mean doing mediating in conflict resolution sessions with the employees or conducting trainings on this topic specifically. The information given should include how to express ideas to others in a respectful way, how to maturely recommend ways others could improve, and how to give or receive feedback on a coworker’s performance.
Once communicating these ideas with respect and understanding has taken place, the hope is that your employees will begin teaching themselves how to communicate more effectively, even with those they may not like or agree with.
#3. Taking Drastic Steps
If nothing you try seems to help make this situation any easier on the employees or the rest of your company, it may be time to take more drastic measures. However, certain drastic measures may affect the ability of your company to function properly. As a result of this, you may find that the only measure that can help you retain functionality as a business is to terminate one or both of the feuding employees. This will likely be the most drastic step you could take toward resolving the issues between your employees.
But before you take this step, Tessara Smith of PayScale.com suggests limiting face-to-face interactions between employees for a while to see if time and separation can help resolve the problems. Taking time away from the situation may help both employees see just how much this feud is disrupting the rest of the workplace and entice them into resolving their issues calmly and effectively.
As a slightly more intense option, you may also see if one or both employees can complete their education or work online or remotely in order to keep completing work on time while also avoiding the workplace. However, depending on the type of business you’re running, this may cause more harm than good with regards to having an effective and productive business. While these likely cannot be permanent solutions, they may be just what your employees need to see how their actions are having a negative effect on their ability to work, as well as the company’s ability flourish.
Dealing with disagreeable employees can be a strain on your company’s time, talent and culture. However, if you have the incentive and resources to help your employees grow with one another, you may find that resolving these issues will help your business become stronger and more equipped to cope with tough situations.
Although it likely won’t seem it at the time, going through difficult times as a company can prove to make your business and your employees stronger in the face of future problems. If you’re having issues with workers who don’t or can’t get along, consider using the tips mentioned above to get everyone back to working productively together and your business back to executing its work effectively.
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