Two employees solving conflict in the workplace

By Bond Collective Staff

As a manager or business owner, it’s important to be prepared to resolve conflict in the workplace. If you aren’t prepared, conflict can quickly become toxic and spread to other members of your team and other parts of your business.

That can lead to decreased productivity and motivation, a breakdown in communication, and disunity within your team.

In this article, we discuss how to prevent conflict in the workplace and how to resolve it if it rears its ugly head.

How To Prevent Conflict In The Workplace

two employees avoiding conflict in the workplace

The best way to prevent conflict in the workplace before it causes problems for your business is to avoid hiring employees that don’t fit into your company culture.

That may seem obvious right now, but during the interview process, it’s all too easy to overlook red flags that may signal future conflict and allow an interviewee’s good qualities to overshadow everything else.

Fortunately, there’s another way you can prevent issues right from the start. Before employees have a chance to disrupt your team’s workflow, implement an onboarding process and continuous on-the-job training.

With effective onboarding, training, and advancement opportunities, you can provide a sense of accomplishment for all of your employees — not just those who incite conflict — that translates into more skills, better preparation, and a happy, engaged team.

For more information on managing a team that is resistant to conflict in the workplace, take a few minutes to read these helpful articles:

How To Resolve Conflict In The Workplace

Happy employees working on conflict in the workplace

1) Don’t Delay

Address conflict in the workplace as soon as possible. Putting it off for whatever reason gives the issue a chance to spread into every corner of your business and cause a lot of damage to your team's unity.

Delaying how and when you deal with conflict also sends the message to your employees that this type of behavior is tolerated. This can have long-term consequences for the way your employees work together.

While you may not be able to resolve the conflict right away, speak to everyone on your team and let them know that what is happening is detrimental to the business and that you are in the process of dealing with the issue.

2) Look For The Cause Of The Conflict

When two or more employees generate conflict in the workplace, it’s not because they’re difficult by nature. If they were, you wouldn’t have hired them.

All too often, an employee acts out because of something going on in their life. It could be that the employee is:

  • Unhappy in their job

  • Frustrated with coworkers

  • Grappling with employee burnout

  • Dealing with personal issues

When you identify the underlying cause of their behavior, you can take steps to help the employees involved and remedy the underlying issue as much as possible.

3) Gather All The Facts

When it comes to resolving conflict in the workplace, avoid relying solely on one person’s perspective.

It’s essential to gather all the facts and investigate all sides of the problem in question. That may mean interviewing other employees — and possibly even customers or clients — to get to the bottom of what happened.

4) Meet With Both Parties In Private

When conflict in the workplace first comes to light, talk with the employees on each side of the issue in private. Never discuss problems in front of other team members.

Invite one employee into your office to discuss their side of the story. Then invite the other employee into your office to discuss their side.

After that, bring both parties together — in private — to try to resolve the problems between them.

Here’s an important consideration: when meeting with the employees (both separately and together), be sure to include a witness — a supervisor, someone from HR, etc. — who can corroborate what you and they say.

5) Keep The Atmosphere Positive

Employees at lunch to talk about conflict in the workplace

When you meet with employees about a conflict in the workplace, do your best to keep the atmosphere positive.

Try not to convey the message that their job could be on the line if they can’t find a solution to their problems. That only adds to the employees’ stress and could make the situation worse.

6) Express Your Trust

The employees on both sides of conflict need to know that you trust them to get through whatever is causing their disagreement. That’s why it’s essential to tell them this directly.

When your employees feel trusted — both in dealing with their conflict and in their everyday work — they’re more likely to be engaged in doing the best they can.

7) Consider Counseling

Sometimes, all that’s needed to get two team members back on track is to give them the opportunity to talk out their issues in a calm and supportive environment.

To do this, you can meet with the employees yourself or provide access to a professional counselor. Even the simple act of venting their frustration and being heard can have a profound impact on their attitude.

8) Dole Out Discipline If Necessary

Figuring out whether or not discipline is necessary for conflict in the workplace is tricky.

If a clear misconduct was the cause of the issue, you may decide to penalize an employee a day’s wages, suspend them for a time, or reassign them to a different job.

You could also try:

  • Setting up a performance-improvement plan

  • Giving them a mental health day

  • Requiring them to take some type of on-the-job training

Whatever method you choose, make sure the employee discipline is commensurate with the misconduct.

9) Follow Up

After your initial meeting or meetings, follow up with your employees to see how things are going. This serves two purposes:

  • It makes the employees feel like valued members of the team

  • It helps you see if any corrective measures you suggested are working

Now that you’ve addressed the cause of this conflict in the workplace, following up helps you and the employees identify whether further measures are necessary.

10) Communicate Regularly

When it comes to workplace conflict, the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” certainly applies.

The prevention in question is communication.

When you speak with your employees on a regular basis (sometimes daily), you can give them what they need to stay motivated and productive, thus preventing conflicts from growing divisive in the first place.

Prevent Conflict With The Right Workspace

Happy employees working together to prevent conflict at the workplace

Conflict in the workplace can happen anywhere, any time. But you can take steps to prevent it from happening by providing the right workspace for your team.

Work environments have evolved significantly in recent years as more and more entrepreneurs and startups move online and into digital offerings. Despite this change in how and where we work, one thing remains the same: people.

Your employees are the one true constant in your business, so you should give them what they need to do their best work, including:

  • Inspiration

  • The right tools

  • Comfort

  • Flexibility

  • Community

Without these variables, their performance suffers, they feel stressed, and conflict becomes a very real possibility.

How can you provide all of these essentials without locking yourself into a long-term lease — that won’t grow and evolve with your business — and without burning through all of your hard-earned capital?

By basing your team in a coworking space, like Bond Collective.

Bond Collective offers thoughtfully curated boutique work environments that provide an unmatched experience for you and your employees. From unique and inspiring design to comfort and efficiency, Bond Collective has everything covered.

We even offer industry-leading amenities, including:

  • Fast, reliable WiFi and Ethernet connections

  • Unlimited black-and-white printing

  • Mail and package handling

  • Private meeting and phone booths

  • Guest reception and greeting

  • Custom build-outs

  • Daily porter service

  • Nightly office cleaning

Take advantage of all that Bond Collective has to offer to help you work smart and prevent conflict in the workplace.

Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.

And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.