Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

7 Tips to Protecting Your Business From Workplace Conflicts

Your business is all about relationships. You have relationships with customers, clients, employees, vendors and suppliers, even the housekeeping staff you speak with only on those nights you work late. Whether you’re a business owner, manager, supervisor, or project leader within an organization, you have a responsibility to your company. A legal responsibility, to demonstrate ethical practices and encourage accountability by setting standards in the workplace to avoid workplace conflicts.

When employees are happy, they are your very best ambassadors. -James Sinegal

Most employment problems stem from personal conflicts. If you ignore personal conflicts or do not address them timely, they often escalate and become legal problems.

Workplace Conflicts of Interest

The single most prevalent workplace conflicts of interest involve romantic relationships between employees. And we all know that a romantic relationship between employer/employee can go bad on so many levels they are to be strongly discouraged or be a condition for firing.

Another example of workplace conflicts of interest occurs when an employee stands to financially/personally benefit from activities that are unknown to the employer. Examples would be vendor kickbacks, accepting gifts in exchange for discounts, or use of company resources/equipment for personal profit.

Move Workplace Conflicts Toward Positive Resolutions

Arguments about who’s supposed to clean the refrigerator this month, petty annoyances, and competition among employees can lead to workplace conflicts that may quickly escalate to a legal problem.

Before you call your mediator or business law professional, you can employ these 7 approaches to prevent and resolve conflicts in the workplace between employees:

  1. Eliminate any workplace policies that have undertones of age, gender, or racial bias.
  2. Find the real source of conflict – Fred goes ballistic because Troy didn’t clean the coffeepot on “his” day. Fred’s over-the-top anger isn’t about a coffeepot; Fred thinks Troy shrugs off important work-related jobs, too. Helping Fred understand the value Troy does bring to the organization will help.
  3. Have well-written employment agreements, employee manuals, workplace guidelines, and codes of conduct. Ensure legal safeguards are in place for your company.
  4. Keep Your Cool – Discuss the issue now, but schedule another meeting – the next day gives them time to defuse. Say, “We all care about this, and we respect each other, so let’s plan a time when we can discuss it more thoroughly.”
  5. Personal principles and on-the-job expectations are generational. In 2018, Millennials are 21-37, GenXers are 38-53, and Baby Boomers are 54-72. Encourage these diverse ages to learn from each other rather than compete with one another other. Each generation brings age-specific knowledge and value to the workplace.
  6. Train managers, supervisors, project leaders in workplace conflicts mediation tactics.
  7. Watch for red flags during the interview/hiring process – When a potential new-hire explains previous workplace or project mistakes that resulted in a failure by blaming everyone else for the team’s malfunction, that’s a good clue this would-be employee won’t take responsibility for anything except successes at your company, too.

What You Need to Know if You Have Employees

Join us for a Small Business Lunch & Learn. You can view our events calendar to learn about our upcoming events. When you attend What You Need to Know if You Have Employees, you can learn about:

  • Arizona employment laws
  • Common mistakes that may expose your business to liability issues and can cost you money
  • Good employee benefits can impact employee retention, but they don’t have to be costly
  • Ensuring your Employee Manual measures up

Good companies want to retain valued talent and this is critical in a competitive market. You want the freedom to exercise your leadership and effective management skills, but you also should be legally protected.

To learn more about legally protecting your business, contact Ogborne Law today.