How Supervisors Can Deal With Workplace Conflict Effectively

Unfortunately, conflict is an unavoidable part of human relationships, and conflict always arises in the workplace. Whether the catalyst for the conflict is serious or fairly trivial in nature, the emotions of anger and resentment can have powerful consequences for workplace morale and productivity. It’s the role of the supervisor to manage interpersonal conflicts. The following are few tips from managers who have experience in dealing effectively with workplace conflict.

A supervisor should start off by making expectations clear. Employees should know how they are expected to behave and what the procedures are when rules are violated. This can be communicated through training sessions and regular reminders at staff meetings. It is also helpful to provide printed information that employees can quickly and easily refer to when in doubt.

It’s also important to establish a procedure for reporting conflict. Ideally, employees should attempt to work out conflicts between themselves before coming to the supervisor, but if that doesn’t work, the supervisor should meet with each employee one on one. He or she should ask for a detailed account from each person and document the stories in writing. This will create a timeline and provide evidence should the problem continue. It’s important that employees feel safe in speaking privately, and confidentiality should be respected if they ask for it.

If both employees are willing, the next step in conflict resolution should be a facilitated meeting between both parties in conflict. As a facilitator, the supervisor should make sure each person has the chance to speak and be heard. Employees may be able to come to a resolution once they are able to talk to each other calmly. If not, the supervisor should prescribe a plan of action for both employees to follow.

If the employees are not able to comply with the plan for conflict resolution, the supervisor may need to resort to disciplinary measures. This might mean moving an employee from one work area or work shift to another. It may also include a disciplinary write-up or probation, with a threat of termination if negative behaviors don’t change. For further insights on effective management, check out