Take this quick quiz to ensure you know how to manage workplace conflict well. 1.…
Should We Care if Our Staff Don’t Get on?
In Small Business, there’s always so much going on, and you have so much to worry about: new financial year, your next marketing campaign, whether you’re going to reach budget. And then, out of the blue, along comes two of your employees who are fighting. Workplace conflict never happens during a quiet period – most likely because there is never a quiet period for Small Business owners.
Just because you are busy, this is not an excuse to ignore the conflict between employees or to think you’ll manage it ‘later’. If you choose not to manage the conflict as soon as you become aware of it, you can be sure it’ll blow out of proportion.
You can expect all or some of the following impacts on your business.
Absenteeism to rise.
I haven’t met anyone who loves conflict. In fact, quite often many people dislike conflict with others so much they will do what they can to avoid it. In the case of your employees, they may avoid coming to work. If you have casual employees who don’t get paid, you will only have to deal with finding someone else at short notice. If your employee does get paid for a sick day, you may have to find someone else to cover them, so you’re paying two people for the one service.
Your business’ reputation may take a hit.
Ever met someone who was in conflict with a colleague and couldn’t wait to download/debrief with you? It’s more than likely the story you were told, true or not, revolved around:An incompetent manager;
a) An incompetent manager;
b) A workplace that ‘doesn’t care’ about their employees; or
c) Some other damaging aspect about the business.
When that conversation had finished, what was your interpretation of that business? Would you want to work for them? I wouldn’t imagine so.
Consider how two, or more, of your employees who are in conflict with each other, would download/debrief with their family and friends. Imagine what their extended network would hear and think about you and your Small Business.
Staff morale to drop.
As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to find people who want to hang around a workplace when others are in conflict. As a result, the morale of other team members may drop. The impact of this is noticed when customer service levels decrease. Many employees are very professional and will separate the staff conflict from the customer, but it may simply be an eye roll or an offhand comment which inadvertently lets the customer know all is not well ‘on the inside’.
And your employee only needs to let the ‘customer-who-will-tell-everyone’ know about things not being happy and ‘Bam!’, you’re back to having your reputation taking a hit.
Good staff will leave.
And, why wouldn’t they? If your good staff could work for your competitor, without the hassle of hearing their colleagues in an ongoing, unmanaged conflict, who would want to stop them from leaving your business so they could go to work elsewhere and enjoy themselves?
And if the reputation of your business has been damaged, do you think you’ll have great potential candidates to select from? I don’t think so.
Here’s what to do if conflict is happening in your Small Business now.
None of the above sounds fun, but there is a solution – a solution which every Small Business owner can implement.
Manage the conflict.
That’s right, manage the conflict. Do this as soon as you become aware of it. If you’re not skilled or confident to manage a workplace conflict, that’s okay; engage someone who is. Source a conflict manager – someone who knows how to discover the root cause of a conflict and can recommend suitable strategies to address it.
You may even need to ask the conflict manager how to tell your staff you will be bringing in someone specialising in this area to help them. And the conflict manager will be able to guide you through this conversation.
Helping your staff during this time is something they will remember – and something they will tell their friends and family.
Yes, we should care if our staff don’t get on. And managing conflict between your employees is well worth the early investment of your time.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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