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As a manager, you probably spend a lot of time hearing complaints from staffers about the annoying habits and behaviors of co-workers. Take a proactive approach to managing employee interaction in the workplace by developing policies that outline expected behaviors and interactions, and describe the dispute mediation approach.
Insist on Respect
Develop a workplace directive that encourages respectful behavior between colleagues. Define it for staffers in writing, addressing common issues such as respecting privacy and personal space, sharing office resources, working in teams and refraining from gossip. If you’re aware of particular annoyances specific to your workplace, such as staffers leaving dirty dishes in the office kitchen sink, wearing too much perfume or snatching candy from one another's desks, address these in your directive, as well.
Create a Dispute Resolution System
While you should encourage staffers to work out petty differences between themselves, if employees cross the line into areas that could potentially be seen as harassment, bullying or otherwise creating a hostile work environment, you need a formal plan of response. Develop a system, either through your office or a human resources manager, for employees to lodge complaints and grievances.
Review complaints and act accordingly, based on the problem. For example, discriminatory or illegal behavior requires immediate one-on-one consultation with the offender. Review office policy associated with the claim and issue a formal reprimand, suspension or termination. If the grievance is more of a minor disagreement, schedule a mediation session between the employees in question and put the issues on the table.
Allow each employee to state her position. Look for a compromise solution, when possible. If one employee is clearly in the wrong and the other clearly in the right, meet privately with the offending employee and remind her of company policy and procedure. For example, if one employee is annoyed with another because she consistently comes to work late, the late employee should be talked to about her job responsibilities and time management skills. On the other hand, if one employee is bothered by how loudly her colleague talks on the phone to customers, a compromise is in order, such as physically separating the two colleagues into different work areas.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.
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