In an ideal world, life would be easy and everyone would get on all of the time. Unfortunately, in the real world, it’s just not like that. A lot of the time, things don’t run smoothly and people don’t always get on like a house on fire – and this is particularly true in a work environment where people of all age groups, beliefs and backgrounds are thrown into a stressful environment and expected to work together to reach a common goal.

It’s safe to say that when conflict in the workplace occurs, it’s not necessarily the most conducive atmosphere for productivity – and it’s generally just not a nice place to be, particularly for a manager or boss who has to step in and act as chief peacemaker.

When arguments spiral out of control and you’ve got employees at each others’ necks, it can be easy to panic and have a bit of a knee jerk reaction, but as an employer it’s important to stay calm and deal with the conflict responsibly and professionally.

Below you can find our five top tips to help you deal with conflict in the workplace.

work conflict1. Acknowledge The Situation & Keep Calm:

It might sound silly but when conflict occurs, a lot of managers will either do one of two things: Turn their back and hope it will clear up on its own or dive in head first like a bull in a china shop and make the situation worse.

When conflict occurs in the workplace, the best thing to do is to actually acknowledge that there’s an issue, work out what the conflict is and who’s involved – and above all, keep calm and think about things from a professional perspective. Now, this can be tricky if your employees are screaming at each other across the office, or an employee is personally attacking you as a manager, but as I said before, getting angry and acting unprofessionally will just make the situation worse. Similarly, the sooner you start to deal with the issue, the more you’ll define your authority with your employees.

2. Listen To Both Sides Privately:

In an argument, there are always two sides to every story – so it’s important to listen to both, away from prying eyes and ears. This way each employee can talk openly and honestly, and as a manager, you can get a better picture of just what’s going on/has gone on and why. In this situation, it’s important to work out what the motivation is behind each employee and what they’re both wanting to achieve.

3. Consult Internal Procedures:

As I said before, in a situation like this, it’s important to act professionally – so it’s definitely a good idea to have a chat with your HR team (if you have one) and consult your business’ HR policy documents to ensure you deal with the conflict in the right way and as per business guidelines. Remember, if you follow the book now, there’s no way your employees can accuse you of acting unfairly or unprofessionally in the future.

Be sure to keep notes of any meetings you have with the employees involved and ensure you file these away correctly so they’re easy to find if you need them later down the line.

4. Find A Solution Which Works For The Business:

At the end of the day, you’re trying to run a business so it’s important to try and find a resolution quickly which works for the business and the employees involved. Think about the bigger picture – what the business needs to happen and what the best solution for this might be. Think about what effect your decision will have on the office in general – and what further repercussions this may have in the future.

Yes, it’s important to consider the employees’ needs, but you need to be careful. Why? Because if you side with one employee, you risk ruining your relationship with the other and similarly, if you side with an employee who’s particularly demanding, they might think that this is the norm now and may try something else further on because they think they can get away with it.

5. Set Standards & Put Checks In Place:

Whatever the argument or conflict was about, once it’s resolved, it’s important to set standards and put checks in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again. For example, if an argument got out of hand, you need to lay down the law to your employees and tell them nothing like this can ever happen again because it’s been damaging to the business. If they have an issue, they should come to you straight away, rather than letting it boil up. One way to avoid future arguments is to have monthly one-on-ones with your employees where you have a bit of a catch up chat and they can air any grievances.

At the end of the day, conflicts in work are inevitable – so it’s important to get to grips with them as soon as possible to defuse the tension and get your business back on track.