4 Tips for Effectively Managing Employee Conflict in Your Small Business

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

When people with different backgrounds, personalities, and beliefs work together, conflicts are inevitable. As a small business owner, it’s important for you to step up to the leadership role and resolve any employee conflicts quickly because interpersonal conflicts in a workplace can be costly. They can lower the morale in the office and result in poor productivity.

Keep the Communication Channel Open

Conflicts are often caused by poor communication. Let your employees know that you’re open to opinions. When you implement a new policy or make changes to how things work in the workplace, encourage your employees to share what they think about the changes with you, especially when they disagree with your new changes.

Differentiate Competitions From Conflicts

Knowing the difference between healthy competition and conflict in the workplace is the key to understanding the impact they have on your business. Healthy competition is usually beneficial to the business, so there is no need for you to get involved. Conflicts, if left unresolved, can create hostility and be disastrous to the business. For example, when employees try to beat each other in sales, they’re engaged in a healthy competition. However, when employees berate and insult each other constantly, they have a real conflict.

Find the Source of the Conflict by Listening

Getting involved in employee conflicts can help you figure out the source of the problem. As a bystander, you see the whole situation more clearly than those who are entangled in it. By talking to all parties involved, you let them know that you’re listening to them. When they feel that they’re being heard, they’re usually more open to coming to a resolution. For example, when two employees are at odds with one another, you can try to ease the situation by approaching each of them separately to discuss the problem. By hearing them both out, you gather more information about the issue and have a better chance identifying the source.

Let All Parties Share Their Version of the Story

Sometimes the best way to resolve a conflict is to talk things out. Let everyone share their versions of the story. They may learn something new about the situation that they didn’t realize before. For example, imagine that you have two employees, Kevin and David, who get into a big fight. David accuses Kevin of being rude to him, but Kevin denies the accusation. After some discussions, Kevin reveals that he has been a little depressed lately because he is dealing with some health issues. David misinterpreted Kevin’s quietness as rudeness. Now that David knows about the cause of Kevin’s quietness, he no longer thinks Kevin is rude.

In Conclusion

Don’t take employee conflicts in your small business too lightly. Try your best to understand their concerns and let them know that you have their best interests in mind. When handled properly and promptly, each conflict offers your employees an opportunity to grow and strengthen the bonds between them.

References & Resources

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