Are your employees always fighting with each other?

Like many brothers, these two have their spats. But Oliver and Dodger are quick to tell each other what's on their mind and walk away without a grudge. Maybe it's because they don't have to worry about office politics. If you feel frozen, remember that dealing with the issue is the best thing you, as a manager or employee, can do to resolve the conflict.
Like many brothers, these two have their spats. But Oliver and Dodger are quick to tell each other what’s on their mind and walk away without a grudge. Maybe it’s because they don’t have to worry about office politics. If you feel frozen, remember that dealing with the issue is the best thing you, as a manager or employee, can do to resolve the conflict.
Do you find yourself in the middle of petty spats between employees? Sometimes it’s obvious when two (or more) co-workers aren’t getting along, but other times it might be more subtle, masked with polite-sounding but demeaning, cutting comments that undermine a team’s effectiveness.

There are lots of reasons that people don’t get along, but whatever the cause, you need to make sure you address it. Otherwise, the productivity of every person they touch will be negatively impacted.

Here are some signs that trouble is brewing:

  • There is a hesitation between the two individuals to talk directly about an assignment.
  • Blame is consistently expressed towards someone when a problem exists.
  • All communication is done via email (easier to remain at arm’s-length with any conflict).
  • There is minimal ‘real’ listening happening during exchanges, only pushing agendas.

As you can plainly see, these behaviors are detrimental to productivity. When two people are fighting, they are more concerned with pushing their own ideas to the forefront. Watch for those signs and don’t let them go unattended.

It’s your job, as the manager, to ensure that the two have a sincere and supportive dialogue to understand each other, even if they don’t agree with each other. It’s ok to have an opposing viewpoint, the goal is to understand, then decide what is best given the big picture.

What can you do to make that happen?

  • Be aware of the problem to begin with. Be on the lookout for signs of discontent.
  • Address it together. Be a role model and learn both sides of the story, objectively.
  • Help the players become more aware of their own approach as well as the style of others. Participate in a training session (I know an excellent one!) or have a facilitator work with your team.

Don’t let your team struggle in an endless tug of war. Take a lesson from these adorable papillons, Cricket and Banjo, who found a way to work through their issue. Does it remind you of your anyone in your workplace?

(If you’re unable to see the video, you can find it here!)

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