As much as we hope for a workplace utopia, the truth is there will always be workplace conflict. Team members not getting along turns your utopia into a dystopian nightmare, and it significantly hinders productivity. You’re not their parent or their counselor, but as their manager, you are the one held responsible for team members not getting along. It’s time to change that.
A landmark report titled Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive proves why team members not getting along is a serious problem for managers. The study found, “An overwhelming majority (85%) of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree. Furthermore, we found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours.”
Ultimately, team members not getting along becomes your problem. These disgruntled employees are wasting valuable time, which eventually causes you to waste time. According to Dispute Resolution Services, “The typical manager spends 25-40% of his or her time dealing with workplace conflicts. That’s one to two days of every work week.”
As much as we’d like to tell you that there is a magical solution that will put an end to workplace conflict, we won’t lie to you. Conflict is here to stay. However, good managers learn how to deal with conflict and even use it to better their team.
So, team members not getting along? This is how you can turn things around for the better.
The best managers know their team. They know their team as individuals. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they know what makes them tick. They have their finger on the pulse of workplace chemistry. As a result, they can sense when there is discord before it is even brought to their attention.
Unfortunately, most people’s first reaction to conflict is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This won’t work. If team members are not getting along and you allow them to stew without trying to resolve the conflict, you’ll have a much bigger problem. You want to address the problem before it boils over and starts to affect the entire team’s workplace chemistry.
Dealing with conflict begins by listening to both sides empathetically. Have a one-on-one conversation with each person involved. Sometimes all it takes is giving the employee space to voice his feelings to alleviate some of the tension. Plus, hearing each version of the story will help you identify the real problem.
While speaking to team members not getting along, it is important to ask the right questions. This is key to getting to the heart of the matter. For instance, ask the employees questions that will encourage them to consider other perspectives, such as “What do think is making her act this way?” Similarly, ask questions that lead to a solution, such as “What do you think you can do to improve this relationship?”
As a manager, you must remain neutral when team members are not getting along. If not, they will feel like you are picking sides. Try to focus on the conflict as a work situation and not something personal. This will help you keep your own biases in check.
As much as you want everyone on your team to be BFFs, it won’t happen. Some personalities will inevitably clash. However, if employees are not getting along, go out of your way to help team members find common ground. This can be something as simple as pointing out they have the same goal – to help your business succeed.
Sometimes team members not getting along need a little push in the right direction. For example, encourage them to work together to find a solution. Then, express faith in their ability to resolve the conflict. Ultimately, you want your team to work it out themselves, only coming to you when intervention is absolutely necessary.
Let me repeat it one more time. Even in the most perfect workplaces, there will be conflict. However, organizations with more positive workplace chemistry will have fewer conflicts. That’s why it is important to encourage your team to get along. Make team bonding activities a regular occurrence.
Do your best to build a culture of respect. Don’t belittle or demean. Don’t yell. Don’t point fingers. Don’t pick favorites. That’s a quick way to create an environment with team members not getting along. Instead, be the ultimate encourager. Your team will follow your lead. As employees feel encouraged by you, they will be more likely to encourage their team members rather than put them down.
One final note - Unfortunately, some difficult employees seem to thrive on conflict. We call these people “conflict seekers.” If one of your team members seems to fit this description, see our pointers for coaching difficult people.
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