You are not going to have all employees getting on with everyone, each person is different and behave and act in their own particular way. People have differences in many ways such as work styles, background and attitude. Clashes can stem from misunderstandings, miscommunications and different styles of communication. It is when this behaviour affects someone else it can be tricky to manage. When does it become an issue that as a business you need to deal with this effectively?
Obvious signs of personality clashes are public confrontations or arguments. This could be in meetings, or generally in and around the workplace there could be awkward comments. Subtle clues that may also tell you of a personality clash could be that the employee withdraws from colleagues, there could be an increase in sickness absence, the employee may display decreased motivation and there could be a drop in performance. You may hear on the grapevine of issues between 2 employees.
Managers should not let things fester as they are more likely to escalate. Not knowing when to step in with a clash of personalities can have damaging effects on the employees and the business;
• Employees may suffer from stress, depression or anxiety. They may feel on a state of alert, preparing for the next time they interact with the person.
• There could be a breakdown in working relationships.
• It could damage productivity and cost the business money!
• It can damage team morale.
What can you do?
Understanding the root cause of the clash is key, you may be able to pin point the moment the relationship started to deteriorate and work from there. It will be important to recognise signs early and be aware if a situation is brewing. A common approach to these circumstances is that the situation may seem trivial and you may think that it will sort itself out. Here are a some options for you to consider;
• Depending on the situation have the opportunity for the employees to clear the air straight away. It is important to nip it in the bud quickly and informally.
• Coaching/Training- in some circumstances you may need to encourage employees to learn strategies to be able to modify the way in which someone communicates.
• Train line managers in dealing with conflict and recognising the signs, and develop effective listening skills.
• You may need to inform the employee of their behaviour and develop an action plan.
• Speak to both, have a chat, encourage employees to see from other people’s perspectives. Having an understanding of the issue and accepting it is a step closer to resolving the issue.
If you are not able to resolve the issue via informal means a more formal process may need to be adopted such as Mediation. Bringing in a 3rd party mediator may able to resolve the conflict.
You may also need to investigate more thoroughly the issue and it may lead to the disciplinary process. We would advise that you seek advice if managing it on a formal basis.
Are you struggling with a clash of personalities in your workplace? Do you need some advice on your next steps? Please call us confidentially on 0161 478 3800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.