Defusing and Managing Interoffice Squabbles

employees using laptops

There is nothing more frustrating to business owners than to deal with the endless stream of office politics and employee squabbles. Let’s just say you walk to work early in the morning and two of your employees are already bickering with each other. You shrug them off and continue walking to your office. That’s nothing. They’ll soon figure it out, you said to yourself. But do you know that this little squabble can affect the productivity of the whole workplace? Not minding these interoffice squabbles will affect the way your employees work.

In many organizations, there’s usually someone assigned to deal with interoffice relationships, politics, and squabbles. Some even have to attend summer courses for psychotherapists to have them get a firm grasp of the possible mental health problems that the employees are dealing with. It pays to emphasize the importance of everyone’s mental health in the office. So, passing by and not minding an argument is counterproductive to what you want to achieve—the well-being of everyone in the workplace.

Experts said that employees rarely resolve disagreements among themselves. They will probably be able to finish their own tasks, but they cannot collaborate anymore. The reasons for their disagreement will fester and affect everyone in the office. As a boss, you need to intervene. Otherwise, you risk losing a very effective employee who cannot live with the stress of the disagreements.

Be Neutral

There is nothing worse for employees than seeing their boss take the side of someone else in an argument. So, before mediating, ask yourself if you can be neutral in the situation. In a small business, the lines between workmates and colleagues often blur. That makes it hard for anyone to be neutral. If you are in this kind of set up, you may have to hire a third-party mediator.

Choose a Consequence

While you can give them a warning, you should also think about a possible consequence. If one or both of them refuse to resolve their differences, what are you willing to do as the boss? Are you going to choose between them? Will you let them both go because their constant bickering is already affecting the workplace? You have to think of the worst-case scenario because you don’t want to be shocked into making a decision up front.

Go Outside

Don’t try to settle the disagreement in the office conference room. Invite your employees to a coffee shop. It’s neutral ground. They won’t see you as the boss. Rather, you’re a mediator; someone who will be neutral to the reason for the disagreement. They will be more inclined to open up to you.

people collaborating at work

Allow Each One to Talk

No matter what you know about the disagreement or how much you want to settle it once and for all, allow each of the people involved in the squabble to speak. Don’t interrupt. Let that person speak and say what they want. That will force others to listen, too. Then, give the spot to the next person until everyone had the chance to speak.

Also, it’s important to speak to them individually before getting them all together in a room. They will be more honest with you. This will provide you a perspective on how best to deal with them once they are together in a room.

Place Them in the Same Project

There is no use to keeping employees who cannot work together. Make a specific and conscious decision to place these opposing parties in one project. Of course, supervise their work because they may not finish it on time. If they can resolve their differences and work on the same project, then you’ve done a good job of mediating. If they cannot work together anymore, you have to think about what to do with them.

Use Your Authority

At first, you should act as a friend and mediator. But toward the end of the meeting, use your authority to persuade them to resolve their issues. Make it clear to all parties that this kind of behavior inside the office won’t be tolerated. As much as you don’t want to meddle into their work or personal relationship, you have to put your foot down if it is affecting their work.

Follow up on Them

After a while, follow up on them to see if their conflicts have really been resolved. They don’t need to be friends or spend time with each other outside the office, but they have to be able to collaborate and work together. This isn’t only for the business, but it’s also for the mental and emotional health of your other employees.

Dealing with employee issues is always a struggle for business owners and their managers. However, this comes with the territory of owning a business. It might happen more than once or twice and it might happen often, so create a policy that everyone in the office can follow.

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