For those small businesses that are made up of teams and rely upon employees, conflict is sure to arise at some point or another. Perhaps between you and the employee, or two employees separately. Regardless of the type, poor conflict management can lead to devastating effects in the workplace. To avoid valuable employee loss, tension that builds up and bleeds into other areas over time, or loss of business efficiency, avoid these common small business mistakes when it comes to conflict resolution:
- Not taking a complaint or matter seriously enough. If an employee feels their concerns are not addressed or are taken too lightly, they may feel they are not a vital part of your organization and may start looking for employment elsewhere. Similarly, if they feel their boss doesn’t have enough of a backbone to deal with their raised issues, they may doubt your ability to keep the business afloat altogether. Be sure to make the employee feel heard, and set an appropriate time to follow up with them to attempt to verify the matter has been resolved.
- Not looking closely at the details. Sure, it may seem trivial to you as the business owner with bigger and better things to do, but if those details are causing a toxic workplace or creating hostility (even subtly), they are well worth addressing, and addressing clearly and in depth with the employees that are raising them as concerns. Remember that resolving conflict is not a waste of time.
- Not nipping problems in the bud. If you sense a problem, feel tension, or are physically told about someone’s concern, one of the biggest mistakes you can do is putting it off and not dealing with it right away. Time has a way of ballooning conflict at times, and as soon as an employee feels unheard or abandoned with their needs not met, trouble tends to only escalate from there. If you are truly unavailable at that time, at least tell the individual they have been heard and the matter is fully acknowledged, and you will be setting up a time to discuss with with them within a set amount of time.
Small businesses don’t generally have an HR department, so these duties tend to fall on the owner or manager. Many of us are uncomfortable with conflict, especially when it occurs in a small office environment with people you know intimately and see on a daily basis. Yet, these are all reasons why a seemingly small problem can escalate far faster than in larger corporate environments. In order to preserve your small business and keep it flourishing, be sure to take on and recognize conflict and the powerful impact it can have on one’s workplace.