Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Playing Referee: Know Your Role in Workplace Disputes

Workplace disputes between employees can have a serious effect. Besides impact on productivity and morale, how an executive or manager handles resolution of a conflict can have serious repercussions for him or her as well.

Leadership experts advise that managers and executives be careful when it comes to mediating disputes between employees. They also say that leaders must be aware of the role they play when attempting to settle co-workers’ differences, or else the rift between employees could expand into an office wide hostile work environment, leaving no cubicle untouched.

The first step is to evaluate the situation and gain perspective. Assess what’s going on while keeping your cool, and refrain from taking sides. Employees involved in a dispute need to know the executive or manager is neutral. It is also important to gather as much information as possible before stepping into a tense work situation.

Emotions are running increasingly higher in today’s workplace, thanks to the economic climate. However, resorting to shouting, even if it’s only to restore order, can have the opposite effect. Co-workers involved in the dispute become so emotionally invested in their argument that winning is now the main agenda instead of what actually started the disagreement. The leader’s ability to remain cool sets the tone around the office and soothes high running emotions.

When it is necessary to mediate a workplace dispute it is important to remain calm, gather all the facts, and above all, set a professional tone.

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