When people work in close proximity with one another, disagreements are bound to arise. Some smaller issues will work themselves out with time. But bigger issues, such as those related to workplace policies and/or disciplinary measures, are unlikely to simply go away. As an employer, you do not want to involve yourself in every petty or minor dispute. But handling bigger issues quickly and effectively is crucial to ensuring the continued success of your practice. Here are some suggestions for handling office issues in a positive manner:
Don’t wait for the problem to resolve itself
This is always the most tempting way to deal with conflict. But not resolving a dispute right away leads to further fighting, resentment, and confusion. Plus, even if you hope that a disagreement has dissipated, it will only come up again and again if there has been no true resolution.
Don’t presume that an issue only affects those in disagreement with one another
Relationships among coworkers can be similar to a family dynamic. Infighting makes situations hostile, and forces bystanders to choose a side. Even your patients can be affected when the hostility among your staff can no longer be hidden. What may seem like a small problem at first can become much bigger and can impact everyone associated with your business if not resolved.
Don’t meet with parties separately
If you truly want to get to the bottom of an issue, meet with the disagreeing parties together. This will eliminate any concerns over who said what and what explanations were given. Let each party present his or her position, without interruption from the other side. Ask questions, and then make a decision as to how best to resolve the dispute. If the argument is a personal one in which there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, then make it clear to the parties that you are here to hear them out, but that you expect them to work with one another as professional adults and that you will not take sides.
By making yourself available to your staff to mediate disagreements, then you can avoid having your business derailed by employee disputes. Treat your workers with respect and make it clear that you expect them to treat one another in the same way. Also, don’t be afraid to remind your staff that if they cannot work together, then you may be forced to take disciplinary action.
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