A superpower we all wish we had is the ability to spot conflict – whether it’s a personality clash, bullying, or cliques – before it develops. Left unchecked, little disagreements can lead to splits in your workforce, high turnover and unnecessary recruitment costs. Prevention really is better than the cure, so we’ve compiled a list of seven easy ways to help you prevent workplace conflict before it becomes an all-out confrontation.

Thu, 11 May 2017

A superpower we all wish we had is the ability to spot conflict – whether it’s a personality clash, bullying, or cliques – before it develops. Left unchecked, little disagreements can lead to splits in your workforce, high turnover and unnecessary recruitment costs. Prevention really is better than the cure, so we’ve compiled a list of seven easy ways to help you prevent workplace conflict before it becomes an all-out confrontation.

1. Have regular check-ins: Whether it’s a weekly 1:1 or a regular informal chat, knowing that you’re there to hear employees’ worries builds trust and encourages solutions over conflict. Create a space that’s completely confidential and encourage that everything will ‘stay in the room’ to put them at ease.

2. Encouraging good mental health: Offer training or online resources (there are plenty of great free ones) to give employees the tools to empower them to deal with any frustration, stress or anger issues, or improve their work/life balance so there’s less chance of any skirmishes down the line.

3. Watching for verbal cues: These may be the most obvious signs of a brewing conflict, but can be easy to misinterpret so it’s vital to be observant rather than accusatory. Repeated talk about drama, whispering or closed-door chats between colleagues can be signs of discontent, as can exclusion of a colleague at meetings and on email threads.

4. Be aware of cliques: Everyone enjoys having work friends, but the flipside is that some may feel excluded. We can’t – and shouldn’t – control office friendships, but instead encourage a sense of involvement through after-work events, away days and workplace-wide meetings.

5. Get to the root of absence: If someone’s taking lots of time off, it could be a sign of problems with their colleagues. Host a one-on-one with them and invite them to open up, off the record, if there’s anything else behind it they need to tell you about – though be aware it may be due to intensely personal issues. Their wellbeing should be the priority – you don’t need to know everything!

6. Monitoring inefficiency: If you have a clear way to measure productivity and it’s regularly down, this might paint a picture of dissatisfaction or frustration – though be sure to view any information in context with verbal cues or absence logs.

7. Keep an eye on social media: Chat programs like Slack are useful tools but can encourage gossip and unprofessional communication. Remind everyone that these are official channels, try assigning ‘moderator’ roles to managers, and lead the conversation topics yourself to make sure everyone’s involved.

Ultimately, it’s about the balance between not being paranoid of your employees – which may drive a wedge between you and them – and monitoring their wellbeing. For even more tips and in-depth advice, view PageTiger’s Managers’ Toolkit to keep your workplace happy and conflict-free.

previously published by
Insight Page Tiger
HR Grapevine