As we approach the holidays, people tend to get stressed out juggling commitments in and out of the office. Tensions between employees that might have been set aside the rest of the year may end up rearing their ugly heads. As a manager or team leader, how can you mitigate these conflicts? It’s not quite the same as breaking up a fight between siblings by sending them to their rooms or telling them to “get over it.”

  • Two Sides to the Story

When conflict happens in the workplace, know there are always two sides to the story. And more often than not, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

  • Compromise is a No-Go

When one or both individuals refuse to compromise, a happy or healthy solution tends to be impossible. There are a multitude of reasons why someone won’t compromise – their ego, they think compromise is a sign of weakness, or they don’t actually know how to compromise. A supervisor or manager is going to have to step in and take action.

  • Yes-Man

This type of employee avoids conflict at any cost and is willing to be steamrolled. It makes the resolution uneven and resentment can take hold. Plus, it sets a precedence that the other party will always get their way. No one wins in this situation.

  • Teammates

Conflict happens and its normal in any work environment. Take this as an opportunity to look at differences. Show the employees how two differing opinions can make them ideal teammates when it comes to solving complex problems. As a supervisor, you’ll have to help reframe the situation.

Steps to Managing Workplace Conflict

  1. Identify someone on the staff to be in a position of responsibility for facilitating mediation. Encourage them to take a conflict resolution training.
  2. Provide a safe space for both parties to share their feelings. Sometimes just hearing the other side’s honest reason or opinion goes a long way towards resolution.
  3. Help to identify some sort of buy in – “what’s in it for me” – for each party. The parties may be able to come up with a solution that involves give and take for both.

Hopefully your office will stay conflict free and it will be a merry season for all. If conflict does arise, think about ways to mitigate it and focus on a fresh start to the new year.