How to Handle Difficult Relationships Within Your Organization

How to Handle Difficult Relationships Within Your Organization

Written by Brielle Silas for

Conflict in the office is unavoidable sometimes. A workplace conflict piece on Medium mentions how this is usually due to the differences in personalities and ideas among multiple employees. More often than not, they cannot set these differences aside and end up clashing, resulting in conflict.

According to Maryville University’s report on risk management, conflicts are a type of risk you can’t afford. If left unaddressed, these can lead to abuse, reputational damage, and even compensation costs. Plus, rifts between employees will negatively affect team dynamics and the organization’s workflow. Plus, now that on-site work is returning, there is a higher possibility of workplace conflict occurring. This is commonly due to attitudinal changes in employees that prefer remote work and rusty interpersonal skills from limited interactions.

To avoid this, organizations must make it a point to resolve and prevent conflicts in the workplace as much as possible. But how do organizations do this?

Resolving conflicts

Certain situations just lead to conflict no matter how much it is prevented. Here are a few steps to take when the time comes for conflict resolution:

Discuss the situation

The first step in resolving workplace conflict is to understand the situation. You cannot think of suitable actions to take without knowing the reason behind the problem at hand.

Meet with the employees who are involved in the conflict. Set ground rules for discussion, such as letting one party speak without interruption from the other. Another is to treat each other with respect. Make sure to hear both sides of the story and encourage them to do the same. A successful discussion is when both parties are able to voice their complete thoughts on the conflict.

Develop possible solutions

Now that both parties have been heard, work with them to create possible solutions. This should be done in their presence because the conflict is between them — you are only facilitating the discussion.

As such, encourage the employees involved to suggest and collaborate on the solution they want. An employee study published in SAGE Journals concluded that letting them express their own thoughts on the conflict reduces their chances of quitting. The research professors in charge of the study note that this is because they are able to directly involve themselves in the process of resolution. In the event that this does not work, step in and make your own suggestions.

Monitor the outcome

Conflict resolution does not stop at discussing the problem and coming up with solutions. You should monitor the progress and how effective the agreed solutions are, too.

Follow up with the employees and ask them how they’ve been since the resolution meeting. Encourage them to speak up if the solutions are not working or if new problems came as a result of it. If the prior solutions are not working, identify and recommend other possible actions to take. Monitoring prevents the previous conflict from getting worse and addresses any leftover sentiments they may have.

Creating opportunities for fostering relationships

Certain actions can be taken to lessen conflicts at work. Here are some of them:

Encourage open communication

In our post entitled How to Boost Employee Morale and Job Satisfaction, a lack of communication can cause low employee morale. Similarly, this makes the perfect source of miscommunication and unaddressed issues that lead to conflict.

Thus, encourage open communication within your organization. Provide employees with different avenues to report problems, such as scheduling one-on-one meetings with their supervisor or HR personnel. Let them know that you are approachable regardless of the concerns they may have.

Enhance teamwork

When employees trust and work well with each other, there is less room for conflict. Improving teamwork in the organization is one way to foster work relationships.

Hold team-building activities every once in a while to nurture their trust in each other. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; you can suggest ice breaker games before meetings or hold work outings that involve teamwork, like escape rooms. Activities that allow them to work together outside of work tasks help them better understand each other and increase trust.

As in-person work resumes, workplace conflicts can often occur due to feelings of discouragement upon leaving the remote work setting and unpolished communication skills. With these steps, you can make your organization a space that allows everyone the comfort to work together in harmony.