Relationships can often become strained when you are working with the same group of people but there are effective ways that you can bring them back from the brink.
Working closely with the same individuals can have its benefits, allowing you to get to know their idiosyncrasies, as well as their skills and areas of expertise. However, it's not always easy. Being in a close - and sometimes stressful - environment with the same group of people can cause friction at times.
So how do you intervene to make sure professionals are able to work harmoniously together again without coming across as overbearing?
Identifying the strengths of colleagues
Many arguments can be caused by frustration, especially in a work environment but giving professionals the autonomy to use their skills will allow them to utilize their strengths. Friction can often occur because one person feels their colleague is shutting down their ideas or chastising them in some other way. Ensure that each person on the team is aware of what their responsibilities are for any given project and that this role focuses on their strengths as a professional.
Having people in an environment where they feel recognized and appreciated for their skills is less likely to lead to friction in the first place but can also work to save relationships that appear to be on the brink.
Understanding personality clashes
Sometimes there isn't a quick fix for friction on the team. If so, it's likely that it's down to more than just professional differences. With people working with a variety of professionals, it's likely that they will come across certain personalities that they clash with. If this is the cause of difficulties on your team you may need to intervene, but be careful to consider the best approach.
Sitting two grown adults down and expecting them to be friends is unlikely to work and - for the most part - is unnecessary. Instead, schedule one-to-one meetings with any individuals involved and allow them to speak freely about any problems they have on the team. It's likely they'll raise the friction they have with other colleagues but on the off-chance that they don't, you can bring it up. Talk about what the issue is, the best ways to prevent it causing problems and how they'd like you to support them. Emotions can take over and many professionals will lose sight of the root cause of the friction. Talking to them this way will encourage them to think logically about the situation and react better in future.
How to remain neutral
Most people will have unconscious biases that can impact the decisions they make in the workplace. For those involved in management, these can have significant real-life consequences for the people you work with so it's important that every possible step is taken to ensure you're making fair decisions. If employees feel as though they are being treated unfairly, this can cause further strain on professional relationships, so making fair decisions becomes even more important.
Despite their best efforts, managers can take sides or view one professional as more to blame than another. This can be for a whole host of reasons but can also be the result of unconscious bias.
Unfortunately it's almost impossible to be free of any prejudices but there are ways you can make less-biased decisions. Being aware of what your biases may be and reaching out to others for second opinions can be the most effective ways of remaining truly neutral in employee conflicts.
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