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How to Handle Internal Employee Conflict

Every work situation can have some tension or conflict. Sometimes it’s based on personalities; people may clash or struggle to work well together. Regardless of the cause, employee conflict can cause workplace strife and other problems.

The background

No working environment is completely immune to conflict. There can always be disagreements, disputes, or tension. Let’s face it: health care settings are naturally stressful environments. Workplace stress can give rise to personal conflicts between colleagues – and when the conflict escalates, no one wins. The results can be very problematic. It costs time and money for managers to deal with the conflict, but there can be an even greater cost: human lives may also be at stake.

The flip side is that, in the right conditions, conflict can be beneficial in some ways. It can be a natural and inevitable consequence of growth and diversity. This is also an opportunity for mutually beneficial change. The differences in opinion can be a time of exciting progress. How can conflict be beneficial and positive instead of negative and destructive? Addressing conflict and taking steps to create a healthy, dynamic, and vibrant workplace can go a long way toward creating the conditions in which this is possible.

Addressing conflict

One method of addressing conflict involves a few steps. First, speak with each employee involved separately; this gives each person a chance to provide individual perspective. Next, determine the underlying problem; after that, meet with the employees together. During that meeting, the manager should offer solutions to the problem. Finally, the manager should maintain close contact with the employees to monitor the situation.

It’s important to note that management style will play a part in addressing the conflict. An accommodating manager may try to smooth things over. A manager who focuses on compromise may use a bargaining process to help employees find a middle ground. Some managers try to avoid conflict, while others encourage employees to compete against each other. Collaborating is true problem solving. The goal is to find a mutual solution when both sets of interests are too important to be compromised….

Next steps

Although some conflict can lead to growth, negative conflict can have serious consequences. A professional code of conduct can be very helpful in averting this type of conflict. Ground rules make it easier to discipline, as they take personality out of the equation. Everyone needs to understand that there are firm limits on inappropriate behavior. With these measures in place, issues may be resolved before they reach the level of conflict.

Finally, it’s incumbent on managers and other leaders to remain vigilant. If the conflict is brewing and managers ignore it, the conflict will grow, and employees may lose respect for the manager. Leadership is about taking action and confronting the issues before it’s too late. When that doesn’t happen, a manager may lose momentum as a leader.

Let’s talk about you

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. If you are searching for a new assignment, we would love to talk with you. Give us a call at 310.436.3650 today.