Workplace strife can easily kill productivity and motivation – but it doesn’t have to. Here are four signs that the tension is rising, and strategies managers can use to “clear the air” and get everyone back on track.
- Communication breakdowns are more common. When people are not communicating or don’t understand each other, it may be because they are avoiding one another or allowing their feelings to undermine their ability to communicate clearly. Whenever a communication breakdown occurs, find out why so you can take steps to address it.
- Lateness and absenteeism are on the rise. When people don’t care about their work – or feel like their employer doesn’t care about them – they are less likely to care if they are on time. It is less likely to matter to them that others must pick up their slack on the days that they miss work. Keep careful track of when employees are late and when they are absent. If you see an upward trend – even a small one – start looking at how to engage your people more consistently.
- Employees go out of their way to avoid working with one another. A sure sign of conflict is when two people take active steps to avoid working together or being in the same room. Perhaps they skip meetings or social hours, or one of them will walk up several flights of stairs to get advice on a project instead of asking the equally qualified person in the next cubicle. If workers are avoiding one another, ask what’s wrong and listen fairly to both sides. Focus on the issue to get to the bottom of the problem.
- Employees are quitting, transferring or asking about alternate work assignments. One person leaving, transferring or looking for a new project is no cause for concern. An ongoing pattern, however, suggests a more serious problem. Consider starting your exit interviews with the question “What made you start looking for a new position in the first place?” rather than the more traditional “Why are you leaving?” The answers can help you find and fix problems.
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