Conflict Resolution

When faced with employee conflict resolution experience has taught me several important lessons. It is important to listen, document and remain impartial.
The parties involved in the conflict can usually make compelling cases for their actions. By listening to each party you let them get the issues out on the table. It is very important that both employees know that they are being heard, that the situation is important and it will be followed up on.
Documentation needs to be thorough. The details of the event should be written down and the employee’s signatures and the date of the event recorded. This may be in the form of a written warning if required or just a description of the events. The employees should be clearly coached on the behavior expected, and consequences of similar behavior should be included in the documents both parties sign.
It is important to remain impartial. The manager’s job is to document and resolve not to judge. Experience has taught me that if one party was responsible a paper trail will most likely develop. If both parties are treated fairly and one of those involved has another issue with additional employees the common denominator becomes clear. If Bob has a problem with Joe, then with Sue, then Fred is not hard to identify that Bob is the problem. For the health of the group an employee who is the source of conflict needs to be terminated if documentation and coaching is not enough.
The manager also has the responsibility of identifying factor of the operation that may have contributed to the conflict. Is there something that the management did to contribute to the situation such as improper staffing levels or other sources of pressure? All of the parties involved need to be held accountable for their behavior and steps should be taken to eliminate future conflicts. Proper conflict resolution is a key part of building a winning team.

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