Office Politics are inevitable and the larger the company, the more opportunity for differences in opinion that lead to conflict. If you own the company, it is in your best interest to maintain peace in the workplace. Here are 5 useful tips to help you stay one step ahead and prevent discord at the office.
When employees try to form unproductive alliances, it typically builds over time. Pay attention to arguments in staff meetings and offhand comments in the break room. Draw attention to it early so you can put a stop to it before it gets out of hand.
If you have a direct conflict with a partner, don’t let the issue linger and become more serious. Talk things out–professionally–and stick to the facts. Avoid emotions or personal agendas. For debates over issues like company finances or sweeping changes, consider bringing in an outside expert (accountant, attorney, etc.) who can analyze the situation objectively and provide counsel on a direction that meets everyone’s needs.
Keep it Private
If you sense tensions rising, ask to table the discussion for another time. This allows tempers to cool off and keeps a private issue from going public.
This applies to you too, especially if you are run a company with a co-founder. If you have an issue, discuss it behind doors or even off site. You have to set the example for the company. Maintain a united front for the company, and discuss differences of opinion in private.
Facilitate – Don’t Mediate
An embattled employee may come to you trying to get you to take sides, or simply to vent. The best way to address this is head on. Offer to facilitate a conversation between the employees, but don’t agree to become their arbitrator. It’s best that they come to agreement on their own and in private.
Avoid competition that leads to conflict by creating an environment where the employees are interdependent and need to rely on each other to get their jobs done. It encourages a culture of unity and can prevent an internal “us vs. them” mentality that can be destructive to a company’s culture.
Trust Your Instincts
Even the smallest companies can have instigators who thrive on creating conflict. Get underneath what is motivating this behavior and take action. If you have started your own business, you have a pretty good intuition about what you want for the company and how to hire people who can make that vision happen. Employees who question you and push you in a healthy debate can be productive; those who work behind the scenes to generate conflict are not. Recognize when it’s time to step in and put the issue to rest.
How to Banish Office Politics by Eric V. Holtzclaw of Inc. Magazine