By Rieva Lesonsky
When your employees are not getting along, it’s a quick path to bad attitudes, not to mention the risk of a disgruntled employee leaving your business. According to the Department of Labor, 21 percent of all wage and salary workers over the age of 16 have a tenure of less than one year. If you consider you’ve already gone ahead and used your working capital to train them, it would be nice if they stuck around. If you let conflicts fester, it could even lead to lawsuits. Addressing the situation creates a solid team among your employees, making your business a better place to work—and for customers to visit.
“To deny or ignore any relational conflict is often a recipe for disaster,” says Dr. Sharon Lewis-Bultsma, Psy.D. “When a conflict isn’t talked about, it can quickly lead to resentment.” Here’s how you can bring peace and productivity back to your business.
1. Keep your eyes and ears open. As the business owner, there’s so much on your plate, it’s easy to bury your head in your work and not notice what troubles might be brewing around you. However, it’s just as important to interact regularly with your staff as it is to apply for a business line of credit. Pay attention to how employees are getting along and listen for sarcastic or hostile responses to questions. Body language between employees can be a big indicator of what’s going on below the surface.
2. Communication is key. “If everyone is communicating, it’s easier to recognize and even avoid an irreparable conflict,” says Bultsma. And don’t worry that conflict means the end of a relationship. Says Bultsma, “Sometimes conflict is the only thing that motivates people to start talking. Irreparable breaks in relationships are more likely to happen when one or both parties has held their feelings in for a long time and then resentment sets in.” Bring the warring parties together and make them talk. Be there to mediate or call in a professional if you think a neutral third party will get better results.
3. Plan for conflict. The best way to prepare for conflict is to have a written policy outlining your company’s procedures for dealing with it. It’s important for employees to know that certain behaviors will not be tolerated and what they should do if conflict occurs. You’ll protect your business from harmful lawsuits if you can show you did everything possible to create a positive work environment.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.