Ditch the Workplace Drama: How to Curb Conflict Between Employees

Does it really matter if your employees hate one another?

In short, yes.

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We’ve recently been covering some of the best companies to work for in America and there’s something they all tend to have in common: a culture that encourages a sense of inclusion, collaboration, and team work. So how can you achieve any of those things if your employees can’t stand one another?

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Employees disliking each other is a problem that can go far beyond cat fights and surface disagreements—it can have a negative impact on your overall corporate culture and your employer brand. Even having just two employees who don’t get along can be problematic for an entire organization.

As an employer, what do you do when faced with this type of situation?

  1. Before you begin intervening as an employer, it’s important to actually determine whether or not discord or disagreement is having a negative impact on the workplace, and if so, how? You don’t want to become involved in personal affairs outside of the perspective of the workplace and it’s important to remember that your employees can dislike one another as much as they want as long as it doesn’t impact business.
  2. Be the example. If members of your workforce see you behaving in a way that’s unprofessional, catty, or downright rude it’s only going to encourage them to do the same. A positive corporate culture always begins at the top.
  3. Look at the structure of your business. If you tend to have what seems like a pervasive problem with employees being able to get along it may be because of the workplace environment. For example, some competition can be a great motivating factor but too much can lead to friction amongst co-workers. It may be a good idea to consider balancing competitive aspects of your business with collaborative efforts, or toning down the competitiveness a bit. Gamification can be a good way to include a sense of healthy competition in the workplace without overdoing it and making employees resentful of one another.
  4. It’s valuable to look at each person’s role within a company and determine whether or not confusion about their position could be leading to problems. For example, perhaps you have an employee who feels they’re “above” a coworker when in reality you see them as equals within the workplace. It may be necessary to redefine roles or lay them out more clearly so that each person in the workplace is aware of his or her job role and functions.
  5. Create the sense your employees can feel comfortable coming to you with issues they may have. Many negative interactions between coworkers may be the result of a sense of frustration as they can’t openly share their thoughts and feelings and that often starts with you as the employer. If you’re able to keep lines of communication open, there’s less likelihood of common workplace pitfalls like gossip and rumors that can lead to strained or problematic relationships.

Are you an employer who’s faced issues with employees who don’t get along? If so, what were your tactics for dealing with it and what did you find was the most effective thing you could do as their boss?

December 10, 2014   Updated :March 20, 2015   employee satisfaction, workplace conflicts, workplace investigation   

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