Workplace conflict, when relationships crumble...

two people angry with each other

A happy employee is a productive employee. So how does it serve your business to have two key members of your team in conflict? Well the truth is, not very well. It can not only affect the two parties involved but also impact an entire department creating a divisive culture. People are encouraged to take sides, meetings become awkward, clients sense an undercurrent. The hub of your nerve centre is an unpleasant place to be. Left unchecked it can become toxic and untenable. It cannot be good for the welfare of your employees or your bottom line.

So many factors can turn strong and long standing relationships sour and when this happens, action needs to be taken before relationships start to crumble.

As a responsible employer, it is imperative to create a healthy working environment with employees' emotional wellbeing as a priority. So what can you do to restore the equilibrium? The first step is to understand the cause of the conflict. One side may be willing to impart details and talk through the issues while the other may not be comfortable doing this. Perhaps there are trust or confidentiality issues.

When two people are in conflict, they are generally past the point of caring what the other person wants, they just want to be heard, properly! Not to be paid lip service but actually to tell their side of the story and for the other side to really listen why they are angry or upset and to put it right. It sounds so simple but in many conflict situations, poor communication prohibits this simple but incredibly important concept.

HR may not be well enough equipped to deal with the situation. Line managers may not have the time or inclination to get involved but the conflict can't be left to fester. So how do you move difficult conversations forward so that everyone is happy and the workplace can become a more productive environment?

A skilled Workplace Mediator is trained to help two highly emotional parties navigate difficult conversations. Conversations that they might have been too angry or upset to have with each other face to face without losing control.

In a safe and measured way, a mediator can guide the process and help those involved dig deep and find the root cause of their conflict which they are often completely unaware of. Supporting them both throughout the day, they will have the opportunity to actually listen to each other and understand the impact their behaviour has had on their colleague. Then, and only then, can they start to move forward and find a way to resolve their dispute.

As mediation is future focused and concerned with rebuilding relationships it provides a good platform to prevent the same issues recurring and a good chance that those involved will both stick to their final agreement. Once the equilibrium is restored, the workplace can return to its hive of productivity!


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