This article was inspired by an executive coaching session I had with a CFO. He has two team members that need to work together. One reports to the other, and both report to him. These two subordinates have been an ongoing problem for him. They are constantly bickering, which is not good for office morale. Productivity is being affected, and they are each coming to the CFO to complain about the other. He came to me to discuss how to address this workplace conflict issue.
Issues With Conflicting Staff Members
As we talked, it was obvious that there are several issues at hand with the employee conflict:
- Neither employee respected the other.
- Neither employee trusted the other.
- Both employees were trying to protect themselves by going to the boss.
- Both employees needed each other.
Unable to Work Out Differences
My client had decided he was going to let them know that if they could not work out their differences he was going to get rid of both of them. He thought that by taking this approach, he would make it clear that this type of behavior would not be accepted in his office and that he was not going to choose sides. He believed both employees were qualified for their positions, and their behavior was unacceptable. As a result, if they could not learn how to work with each other and resolve their conflicting issues, there would not be a place for them in the company.
Questions To Help Resolve Employee Conflict
In order to resolve employee conflict in the workplace, you must bring light to the situation at hand. Having a meeting with both employees and asking them the following questions will help resolve the workplace conflict:
- What was the biggest contribution that they felt the other person brought to the company?
- What was it that they appreciated most about the other person?
- If the other person could change one behavior what would it be?
- What would it look like, and how could they go about making that change?
- What is one thing that the other person does that causes other people not to trust them?
- What would be one thing that could do to reverse that mistrust?
You should then request each employee to commit to these changes, and meet again in 30-days to grade each other on how well they improved.
Workplace Conflict Resolution:
Resolving Conflict Between Team Members
In my experience as an executive coach, my client is using a highly successful approach to resolving conflict between team members. It is effective because people usually fail to see things from the other perspective. This lack of empathy and selfishness causes a barrier in relationships and an inability to develop mutually beneficial solutions.
Upon breaking the barrier by truly seeing issues from the other person’s perspective, colleagues soften in their personal positions and can see issues from a broader perspective. As a result they are prepared to attack challenges from a mutual gain perspective.