Kirsty Smith - HR Professional
Let’s face it, workplace conflict is never good for business. At the very least it is uncomfortable, but at worst may lead to stress, particularly if left unresolved for extended periods, and can also cause downturns in productivity and increases in absenteeism.
It is important to work out where the conflict stems from. Generally there are two types of workplace conflict:
We’ve all seen or experienced workplace conflict when working face to face, side by side with our teams. However, with the increase in remote working, workplace conflict can and will still occur. In fact, working remotely can further increase the chance of issues arising through misunderstanding as we don’t have the advantage of being able to read body language cues that help guide our interpretation of the spoken word. Zoom, Teams, Meets – all powerful video conferencing tools but the lack of in person interaction and connection can result in the disintegration of positive and respectful working relationships and the slightest discord can escalate into a major issue as remote workers feel isolated or the matter goes unnoticed if we don’t take care.
Further, the reliance on the written word through online platforms such as email, Slack, Messenger and so on, can too easily be misinterpreted. Imagine a situation in which you are flat out trying to keep up with your work and you quickly respond to an employee’s well thought out email or polite request. On any other day, your reply will be taken as intended – an answer to the question. But consider the remote worker who is feeling disconnected, isolated, frustrated and suddenly a quick and helpful reply is interpreted as a curt, rude or dismissive brush off. And the nature of remote working means that popping round to some else’s work station to ensure there is no heat in the response is not an option. The danger in this kind of example is that the remote worker may allow their annoyance to fester into something that causes a working relationship to disintegrate and a major conflict is in play.
HOW TO MANAGE WORKPLACE CONFLICT
Some simple steps to help resolve workplace disputes:
If the issue appears to be a situation requiring an investigation or external facilitation to get things back on track, then speak with each party individually, but explore the incident or issue further by interviewing other people as needed to get a full understanding of what has occurred. In some instances, it may that one person is causing the issue and rather than a facilitated meeting, disciplinary action may be required.
In any case of conflict or concern, seek help and advice if needed, so you can get back to business as usual as quickly as possible, for the benefit of you, your clients, your team and your business. Reach out to us at HR Staff n’ Stuff for help at any time…
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