Team not playing nice? How to deal with the conflict

Following a strategic plan can help you resolve the toughest employee disputes (

Does the office feel like a war zone from time-to-time? Here's how to bring calm.

Most people’s first instinct is to avoid conflict at work. Which makes sense – who wants to say something that could potentially send them packing? 

But have you considered that by pretending as if you didn’t see anything you could be putting your team and possibly the company in jeopardy?

So what’s the managerial thing to do in cases such as the above?

Prevention is better than cure

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. Whether you keep an eye out for it (good idea) or try to avoid it (bad idea), it will find you. However, putting practices in place to help minimise conflict triggers, will serve you and your company well.

When making new appointments, ensure that the new employee is a great fit to the team. If the older team members will be working closely with the new employee, it will be a wise idea to involve them in the selection process.

Opening lines for clear, regular communication is of utmost importance. Not only is it key to building strong relationships, but as a manager your employees need to know that your door is always open for them to voice their concerns.

Distribute work hours and work evenly. Don’t allow certain employees to do less work than others – it will only spark a quarrel. Keeping your employees equally busy at all times will also make less time for gossip and disputes.

Invest in training to teach your employees the necessary conflict-resolution skills, and make sure they put them to practice when opportunities arise.

Have grievance policy and procedure strategies set up. In this way should any volatile situations arise, they can still be passed up to management who will be able to stay on top of it all.

Ensure clear guidelines for dealing with potential conflicts are established. Each time a new employee joins the team, make a point of communicating these guidelines.

Establish common goals that focus on tasks and not your employees’ personalities. Ensure that each employee contributes towards meeting the shared goals. When targets are reached, reward your employees.

Conflict resolution

Sometimes the damage is already done and it’s too late to take preventative measures. While conflict can certainly shred your team into pieces, you as the manager can still come up with creative solutions to resolve the problem.

The secret lies in: Constructive Conflict Management

Step 1: Identify the problem

Find out what the source of the problem is and what stage the conflict is in. Essentially your purpose is to get involved as much as possible.

Step 2: Give each side a chance to speak

Arrange one meeting with the necessary parties and ensure that all differences, complaints and negative feelings are aired.

Step 3: Work through the differences

Your aim here will be to bring about greater understanding of the parties’ different attitudes, perceptions and positions. Encourage both parties to highlight their points of view and try to get each party to understand the other’s point of view.

Step 4: Identify solutions

For each issue find a solution. To get the best results, involve both parties in playing an active role in identifying solutions for each issue.

Step 5: Reach a compromise

Create a win-win situation in which each party obtains their goals through creative integration of their concerns. Create an agreement, preferably on paper, where both parties acknowledge the issues and agree to move on.

Step 6: Keep communication channels open

Make sure that your employees meet regularly to talk about any awkward situations that could be potential triggers to future conflicts.

Step 7: Follow-up

Give yourself about 3 months from the first meeting to check if everything is still in order. Check if the issues have been resolved and whether further mediation is needed.

For more tips on how to be an effective manager, read more articles from our management advice column.