President Ronald Regan noted that “peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means”. This seems simple enough, however, when two opposing groups or two opposing individuals build mistrust and resentment overtime, it may seem impossible to “retire the feud”.
We believe five simple steps will be of tremendous benefit in the beginning stages of employee feuds:
1. Don’t assume that “time will heal all wounds” – begin communication exercises immediately.
2. Choose a neutral and private setting for a joint meeting between both parties. Control dialogue. Words truly do hurt and, in many cases, are enduring. Set standards for discussion at each meeting.
3. Rome was not built in a day – repairing lines of communication takes time and commitment. Set regular meetings, reviewing the progress of the last meeting. For the initial meeting, congratulate both sides for their participation.
4. As the owner/supervisor/director/manager, are you able to play neutral? Probably not. As you move towards the mediation or dispute resolution process, work with an outside, a non-biased professional.
5. Gather useful input. Frame open-ended questions such as:
How would you change this situation?
Where do you see problems?
What are some steps you suggest?
A major element in creating a positive corporate culture is encouraging and allowing a “buy-in”. Take time to listen, the results will be rewarding.
As always, let us know your thoughts.