Saturday, February 28, 2009

Q. How do we resolve conflict in the workplace?

A. There is no simple answer. The real trick is to stop conflict before it starts. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about workplace conflict:

So, what types of conflict/harassment take place in the workplace? Race, religion, creed, orientation, weight, height, sex, political standing, etc. These things could not only cause your employees to quit but also open up your company to potential lawsuits.

How do we resolve conflict already taking place at work? The manager should immediately do what is needed to diffuse the problem. When an employee needs correction, you might ask yourself, “What can I say or do to persuade him/her to choose a better way?” When presenting necessary correction, do not do it in front of everyone. Interview the employee privately. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, you should have another trusted manager there with you so that there is a witness to the conversation. If correction is required, do it promptly. Your leadership style must be sincere and based on company guidelines.

What is OK to say to employees when resolving conflict? A good rule of thumb to use is this: “If this conversation is shown on TV tonight, would I be comfortable or would my company agree with what I said and how I said it?” If the answer is “No,” then you should reconsider what you are about to say.

In the end, we all know that managing an office or branch of multiple employees is not easy. Tips for decreasing conflict in the workplace include: Don’t control or micromanage your employees; listen and train; inspire through correct example; be visible and available; and seek input and give immediate feedback

Your company trusts that you will do all you can to teach and persuade your employees to follow the rules and to respect others. Follow the things discussed above and your workplace will be much more conflict free.

Ian McCracken is president and owner of Professional Recruiting International. Reach him at