Whether you have two employees or two-thousand on your payroll, anytime you put more than one personality together, there’s room for potential trouble. The introverts are fighting to find an empty place in the corner to do their work, just wanting to be left alone, while the extroverts are chasing right after them, wanting to know what they’re doing and invading their personal space.
Then you’ve got the people who gossip about everyone, and the ones who wouldn’t say a word about another human being ever, whether vain or not, even if tied to a stake that was set on fire. And let’s not forget about the people who you have to ask to repeat themselves because they’re so soft spoken, making them completely different than the individuals who are so naturally loud that you’re constantly asking them to quiet down.
Okay, maybe it isn’t quite that bad…or maybe it is. Either way, if your staff doesn’t get along and work together as a team, it is ultimately you who pays. Through the drama, they become disengaged, as they’re more focused on the dynamics of the office than the purpose, an expense that one Gallup poll says is costing us almost $350 billion each and every year in lost productivity alone—and that was more than ten years ago, so think of what that number would be now!
As a small business owner, it is imperative then that you find a way to create a more cohesive work environment. This will not only help all of your employees experience happier and more satisfying work days, but it will also benefit you when it comes to increased productivity and cost savings. How do you do this?
Sometimes just being present is enough to stop staff from squabbling, says INVEST EAP. This means that you may get positive results simply if you “increase your involvement and visibility with your employees.”
This may mean spending more time in one area if tensions seem to have increased among a couple staff members working there. Hang out for a little bit of time or stop in for impromptu visits so they’re never sure when you’ll show up.
At a minimum, as INVEST EAP points out, you may be able to see firsthand what is going on, what types of behaviors are being exhibited that are adding fuel to the fire. And if you do witness something that requires your attention…
Address Issues Swiftly, Yet Open Mindedly
HR outsourcing firm Insperity suggests that it is very important to address problematic issues between staff quickly, yet with an open mind. The reason for the swiftness is, “Like a bad sore, if ignored too long, employee disputes can fester and infect the entire workplace and ultimately taint the reputation of your company.”
You want to hear what each person has to say with objectivity so you’re able to find the best solution possible. This enables you to deal with the real issue in a way that allows each employee to do his or her job, and do it well, even if they don’t particularly like the other person they’re working with.
Insperity also cautions that you shouldn’t interfere with every little disagreement your staff has, as doing so could actually make matters worse instead of better. Instead, try to get them to deal with the minor issues on their own. Only step in when it appears that they’re not getting anywhere, or the problem is growing in size and you want to stop it before it reaches out to other staff.
Go Over Your Social Media Policy
In this day and age, everyone is putting all of their work-related complaints online in the form of Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and more. However, this can do a lot of damage to your business, especially if your employee’s rant is shared and goes viral. Plus, if one co-worker singles out another and it gets back to him or her, then your ability to cool the fire is going to decline dramatically because no one likes to be insulted publicly. It’s even worse if a client is the reason for the post.
One way to avoid this type of scenario, according to Profiles International, is to “know your company’s electronic media polices and communicate them with all employees.” This can potentially save a lot of hurt feelings and keep people from wanting to seek revenge when they feel like they’ve been called out, creating a more cohesive work environment as a result. It may even save your business’ reputation.
Reinforce Company Integrity
When your company is potentially at stake, it’s time to reinforce your integrity. Or, as PayScale puts it, “If your employees can’t seem to recognize the office is not the high school cafeteria, draw their attention to your company policies. Champion the notion that your organization prides itself on having a healthy work environment and expects team members to treat one another with common courtesy.”
A good time to do this would be at your regular staff meetings. Then everyone is together and can hear your message loud and clear all at the same time, preventing some employees from feeling singled out.
Have you ever dealt with employees who haven’t got along and obtained a positive response? If so, I’d love to hear about it, so share your story below!
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!