When employees fight, everyone suffers. Even those employees who aren’t involved are caught up in the negative atmosphere, and that negativity can affect productivity and morale. Although you can’t prevent every argument, you can take steps to reduce arguing and bickering and make your office a more pleasant place.
Make Roles and Expectations Clear
Arguments tend to occur because employees don’t know what’s expected of them or they believe they’re being asked to perform tasks that aren’t part of their jobs. Avoid these types of problems by making roles and expectations clear. Meet with each employee to clarify the goals and tasks he’s expected to handle. At the start of a group project, spend a few minutes explaining the responsibilities of each team member and the project goals. Ask employees to speak to you if they have any concerns about assigned tasks. If an employee knows what tasks are his responsibilities, he’s less likely to get into an argument with a coworker over territory.
When it’s obvious that your employees aren’t going to solve the problem themselves, step in to defuse the argument. Sometimes all that’s needed is an impartial third party who can objectively examine the issues and help employees understand the other person’s point of view. The "Harvard Business Review" points out that workplace arguments can lead to lingering resentment, which, in turn, can cause future arguments. When you stop arguments before the participants are overcome with anger, you’ll have a much better chance of calmly resolving the problem and getting everyone back to work quickly.
Separate Battling Employees
Employees should be mature enough to work with others, despite differences in opinions or personalities, but that doesn’t always happen. If your two best performers don’t get along, don’t put them in situations that you know will end in arguments. Although they will have to work together at times, it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep them separated when possible. It's also a good idea to place their offices or cubicles far apart to limit interaction.
Invest in Communications Training
If every day is a battleground in your department, it might be time to train employees in effective communications techniques. Employees might become so accustomed to arguing that they forget how to work together effectively and calmly communicate their needs and concerns. Training, whether held at your office or another location, can teach employees techniques for voicing their concerns in a more positive way. Everyone in the department can benefit from communications training, not just the troublemakers, so make sure you promote it as a positive team-building activity, not a punishment.
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