Tips to Avoiding and Solving Conflict in Your Small Business.

As the nature of all human interactions, conflict is inevitable in any organization.

Most of the big enterprises have policies and proper channels in place to manage conflicts before and when they occur. This happens mainly through the Human Resource office.

On the other hand, most small businesses have few employees or are family-owned and might not bother putting any serious policies or channels in place to deal with conflict. That way, they find themselves stuck in situations where there are no more options left for them other than the worst. You end up losing staff and this reflects in your business productivity negatively because you are short of human labor. If your business is family-owned, conflicts can really affect your relationships and this costs your business too.

The Thriving Small Business mentions that workplace conflict is often cited as a key reason for an employee to leave.

Small businesses face many challenges and losing employees due to conflict is one challenge you can try to avoid. Avoiding and solving conflicts the right way and on time is a strategy that will help you retain your employees.

Nicky LaMarco on Small Business Chron says you need to come up with conflict management policies beforehand. LaMarco adds that you also need to find strategies or ways to help bring your team back on track.

Most of these strategies are easy to implement if you really want to.

1.Listen to Your Employees and encourage dialogue.

This should not be a hard thing for you to do especially considering the fact you have few employees.

In a small business, it’s really hard for you to just sit and ignore conflict. Your employees are bound to rub on each other’s shoulders once in a good while. And, issues between your employees can really cause issues for your small business if you have a blind eye.

Develop the habit to listen to your employees as regularly as possible. This can help you tame a situation before it gets heated and out of hand.

Listen to all parties involved in a conflict to find the root cause of the conflict in order to deal with it soon. Understanding the main causes of a conflict will help you resolve issues better.

Be as impartial as possible when trying to solve a conflict or bring in someone impartial but be present.

Most of the issues can be easily solved with good communication in your small business. Always look for ways to ensure good and effective communication in your business.

2.Build Relationships with Employees.

Most bosses believe in a traditional employer and employee relationship but this costs many small businesses.

Work towards building good relationships with your employees as this helps reduce conflict.

The fact that your business is small, it’s much easier to build relationships with all your employees while you can. Focus on them as individuals and build a good relationship with each of them.

When you build relationships with your employees, they will have some type of trust and they can be open with you. This way, they can speak about issues as early as possible and you can help address them sooner.

You can easily avoid and resolve conflict with open and honest communication.

3.Clarity in objectives and roles.

When your employees don’t have a clear picture of what is expected of them, there will be confusion in roles and conflict is likely to arise in that confusion.

Let alone understanding their roles, when your employees don’t understand your business values or your goals, there will be conflict.

“Business leaders have a responsibility to be clear about the values of the organization and their expectations for their staff.” Sarah Brown, Inspire 2 Aspire Founder through an article by Patricia Lotich on the Thriving Small Business.

When you communicate clear values, your employees know what is and what is not expected of them in your business.

4.Appreciate your Employees.

Studies show that one of the things that lead to conflict is when your employees feel underappreciated.  

Praising your employees makes them feel valued and this creates a healthy work environment. Appreciation and praise foster positive and open work environments and this increases morale and reduces conflict.

Make your environment as positive as possible.

5.Collaborate with Your Employees to Create Conflict Resolution Protocols.

Involve your team in coming up with ways to handle conflicts in your small business. Your employees are more likely to corporate with rules they hand a hand in coming up with.

Bring your team together and ask them to come up with ways they think are best in handling conflicts when they arise. Let them come up with protocols and guidelines to be followed during conflict resolution.

With all on board with these protocols, they’re likely to work long-term because employees were part of creating it.  

As a business leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that these protocols are followed and not just on paper.

6.Collaborate with Your Employees to Create Communication Guidelines.

Find out the things that lead to conflicts and involve your team in coming up with ways to put these factors in control. For example, if it’s wrong communication, let them come up with acceptable ways of communicating in the workplace.

Let them all agree on these guidelines including yourself as the business leader. Maybe it roots down to you and they don’t like how you communicate and find it rude and disrespectful.

7.Know your People.

When it’s all said and done, sometimes the issue is not the issue but the person is the issue.

Even with all the measures, and guidelines, there are people who are always at the center of it all. Be on the lookout for such people as they might be trouble for your small business.

Be very observant and remember to also listen to your employees and listen to common factors or common individuals. They are always the ones aggrieved or the ones aggressing others. These people tend to cause trouble and stir misunderstandings among your people and this is not good for your business.

Consider putting them in a different area or department or team in the business in line with their skills. If they don’t change, maybe they are just not a good fit for your business.  

Final Thoughts…

With conflicts bound to arise occasionally, several tactics revolving around good communication is the way out.

Focus on ensuring good communication to avoid constant misunderstandings, miscommunication, and confusion. Build relationships with your employees, listen to them as this fosters open and honest communications.

With some of these tactics in place, resolving any conflict between and among your employees becomes easier. These tips will help you tame situations before they fester hitting your small business and diving your team.

All these go down to a good working environment. A good working environment reduces conflict is a boost for your business.

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