Policies, Politics, & People: Handling Disputes in the Workplace

You might consider yourself to be an approachable person, but when you’re building relationships with your fellow workers, there could come a time when people don't agree with your ethics. This can make for a very tense working environment, not to mention it causing difficulties for the two warring parties. But even if it is two different employees, or you are locked into disputes with one yourself, what are the best ways to handle these types of quibbles in the workplace?

Letting People Tell Their Story

A lot of conflict in the workplace can arise out of being unable to communicate their frustrations. One of the primary rules of mediation is allowing people to vent and speak their minds, which can create additional conflict in the short term, but you can't sidestep this at all. If it's yourself, and you are emotionally invested in a conflict, this can result in a lot of skewed outcomes, but a process called union arbitration could work in this respect, where a third party resolves the dispute. Whatever the scenario, employees need to be given a platform to express their views, no matter how unsavory they may be in the grand scheme of things.

Understand When To Step In

As a leader, you have to decide when it's best to step in. You need to give the two parties a chance to resolve it by themselves, but if it gets to the point where these disputes are affecting their work or impacting others, you have to dig in to find the root cause. It may be professional, or it could just be a personal problem that has nothing to do with the job. While it's essential to give your workers the opportunity to settle it themselves, you need to be aware of the various types of workplace behavior that may cause people to butt heads constantly. Sometimes there are people that just rub each other up the wrong way. In which case, you've got to find a way to keep these people apart professionally.

Don't Underestimate The Positive Results Of Conflict

We can view conflict as a very negative by-product of working together, but we can use conflict to bring about positive change. If the dispute is professional, this could very well bring up a whole slew of other problems that were masked before. And overcoming these could flag up new ways to resolve issues within the business. It could even help your employees to develop on a professional and personal level by improving their behavioral skills. Fixing this conflict can prevent a larger problem from exploding. It's important that we encourage resolution of conflict as soon as we see them.

It's down to you as the boss to ensure that your workers are happy, professionally and personally. While it's part of the landscape of office politics, disputes are never easy to handle, but we can find ways to come to a satisfactory conclusion for both parties. Dealing with people is a necessary skill to benefit any company, when disputes arise we have to learn how best to handle them for the benefit of the workers and the business.