3 Ways to Handle Conflict on the Floor

Conflict on the floor is the last thing you want as a manager. It stalls production, hurts morale and can even be a safety issue. Unfortunately, despite your best intentions and whatever safeguards you put into place, conflicts on the floor happen. Maybe two workers disagree about the best way to complete a certain task. Maybe one employee gets in the way of another while doing their job. Then there are issues of jealousy or contempt between workers for the way they look, act, do their job or are treated by the company.

Mediation

When there is conflict on the floor, the first step should be old-fashioned mediation. The two parties should sit down and try to work it out. The goal is to try to come up with a resolution that is satisfactory for both sides. This requires an ability to listen. Admonishing employees to “get over it” and “get back to work” will never work. Even if they agree, their contempt will reflect in their work, and things will eventually boil over again. Make a strong effort to hear both sides and to make sure each side hears the other, then work towards a solution.

Anonymous Airing of Grievances

If things are too hot for the parties in conflict to talk face to face, even with a mediator present, an alternative can be to have them air their grievances anonymously. Have each side write down their concerns and issues. Come up with solutions, and then approach each party to see which solutions are appealing to them before bringing them together.

Restructuring

If an issue seems to be impossible to resolve and both parties are valuable, it may be necessary to resort to moving one employee to another department, shift or part of the floor. While it is much more desirable to have employees work things out, this approach is preferable to firing a valuable employee or leaving the conflict without resolution.

Why Is It So Important to Resolve Conflicts?

You may feel it will be fine for those employees to steer clear of each other and focus on their work, but when there’s have a lingering conflict, it can be impossible to focus on anything else. Workers in conflict show increased stress, distractibility and lack of focus. They may call in sick more frequently, leave early and make errors. Their attitude can spread to other workers, creating an even larger problem. Like a spreading infection, it’s important to eliminate worker conflict at the source as quickly as possible.

How to Stop Conflicts From Arising in the First Place

Again, it is impossible to eliminate all conflicts from the workplace. However, if your company maintains open communication with the workers, you can often nip conflicts in the bud before they become a serious problem. When workers feel comfortable with management, they feel free to approach them with grievances before they become serious issues that can interfere with productivity on the floor.