Handling conflict in the workplace is very difficult -both for the manager and the people involved. Here are some tips to help you through this:
1) Understand individual styles and behaviours: If managers understand their reports and how they behave, they will hopefully be able to diffuse any potential conflicts. Psychometric tools can help with this if appropriate/affordable. However the best way of understanding individuals is to interact and communicate as much as possible. Conflict causes increases in stress and decreases in motivation so early intervention is very important
2) Get them talking: An employee who is experiencing problems with other employees will often shy away from the issue, and not communicate. In this situation, managers who can see the issue and can talk with the individual have the best hope of sorting out the issue before it becomes a major problem. The manager needs to ask open questions and ask the employees how they feel and how they might see a resolution
3) Consider professional support: If the manager is having difficulties resolving the conflict issue, look at other alternatives such as mediation. Mediation can diffuse and resolve issues very effectively. In a recent CIPD survey just 1.5% of employees in a conflict situation said that they had been offered mediation, whereas nearly 50% felt it would be an effective approach to dealing with the problem
4) Make it formal: If all avenues have been explored, and the employee still feels that the conflict has not been resolved, refer to the formal procedures and move the issue along quickly through the formal grievance/disciplinary process
5) Be prepared: Consider all the risks and the options as you go through the process. Keep engaging and talking to the affected individuals throughout the process, your engagement with them may prevent a major third party process. One of the major reasons that employees take external third party claims is because they feel they have not been understood, listened to and/or respected.