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November 5, 2018

Ask Levy: Bickering Team Members

Dear Levy,

I want to know how to stop bickering among team members.

--Lisa

 


Dear Lisa,

It may help you to know that you are not alone in needing to mitigate employee bickering. Research shows that managers spend 25-40% of their time dealing with conflicts in the workplace.

These conflicts can be caused by any number of things. Some are slow to build and increase in intensity over time, while others come to a full head quickly and without warning. Incidents can be caused by personality clashes, lack of workplace engagement, and even misdirection from upper management.

You can reduce the amount of bickering in your workplace by prompting a cultural shift that encourages open communication, showing appreciation, and peer-to-peer recognition. Here are some tips to help curb fighting, backstabbing and other crimes among your team.

Have the Talk

Your employees need to be made aware that constant bickering and badgering each other is not acceptable in the workplace. Sure, it may be written in your employee handbook, but unless you put it directly in their faces, most of your employees are not going to read through it. Have a conversation with your organization and highlight that a shift in company culture is needed.

The initial conversation should include the whole company. You might segment out specific departments that are seeing most of the issues and later, meet with individual employees one-on-one. One-on-one meetings may also be used to give bickering employees the opportunity to air their grievances and even brainstorm solutions that would help avoid future conflict.

Provide Avenues for Communication

Rome was not built in a day and neither is a healthy company culture. Disagreements and conflicts cannot be completely avoided, but they can be curbed. Help your company culture shift to gain traction by making it easy for your employees to openly communicate with each other and with their superiors.

 Often, conflicts are simple misunderstandings that can be resolved through communicating to each other what went wrong and what needs to be done to fix it. Before reassigning job tasks or even firing an employee over a conflict, host a mediation between the two parties and brainstorm a solution together. Those created by constant nagging and bullying should be addressed according to company policies.

Lead by Example

You are the creator of your workplace culture. Demonstrate to your employees the ways you would like them to avoid and resolve conflicts by practicing those same techniques. You may also improve workplace culture by taking time to recognize the modest acts of your employees. At first it may seem silly to congratulate someone on completing a menial task or thanking an employee for doing the job they are expected to do each day, but it’s these small gestures of appreciation that create a snowball effect in organizations. The more your employees feel appreciated, the least likely they are to become disgruntled.

Encourage Humility

Conflicts can catch fire quickly when egos get in the way. Adopt the slogan “Teamwork Over Ego” as part of your company’s culture. Make it a core value and encourage employees to always acknowledge that the success they achieve is never something they accomplish alone. Give employees the opportunity to recognize each other as peers. Remind them that bragging and giving negative criticism is not acceptable in a workplace that practices humility.

Recognize Core Values

Encourage employees to take time to recognize each other in the same ways that you demonstrate. Create a recognition program that allows employees to nominate individuals for recognition. Nominees should be employees who best exhibit the core values of your company. Publicly recognize nominees with a trophy or small prize. Seeing coworkers be recognized for acting a certain way may inspire others to emulate those same behaviors. Thus, creating a behavioral change throughout your organization.

A workplace that is tainted by bickering and nagging is tiresome and annoying to all your employees, not just the ones guilty of the crime. A culture shift is needed in order to drive out the negativity. You can prompt behavioral changes through modest acts of recognition and encouraging your employees to show appreciation for each other. Strengthen your company’s communication policies and be there to listen when employees come to you with their issues. Building a happy workplace culture starts with you.

I know you can do it!

Recognition Rachel

 

Written by Recognition Rachel

Meet our Ask Levy columnist, Rachel! Passionate about helping people, Rachel provides answers to all your employee recognition questions. Whether you are looking for fresh employee engagement ideas, or need advice on building an awesome workplace culture, Rachel has the answers!
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