How to take the right approach to solving workplace issues

Workplace Organization
June 9, 2022

Unresolved workplace issues disrupt employees’ workflow. A study on team conflict published by the Global Transitions Proceedings found that team climate and cohesion are directly linked to the outcome of a project. Thus, a positive climate and relationship among employees greatly improves the quality of their work. As such, whenever there are workplace issues, business owners must do their best to resolve them.

If you’re unsure how to start, take our guide on the right approach to solving workplace issues:

Diagnose the problem

The first step is to identify the root cause of the conflict. For some business owners, it’s convenient to suggest team-building activities to resolve conflict. However, generic band-aid solutions like this do not actually target the problem at hand.

For instance, Senior Vice President of global leadership solutions for LHH, Alex Vincent, shares his company experience when a team of the best employees was underperforming. While the CIO wanted Vincent to do anything and everything to solve the problem, he opted to talk to each team member. Doing this, he found out that the underperformance was caused by one member who did well alone but lacked in team settings. Thus, Vincent recommended that the CIO address that individual instead of the whole team. As a result, the team improved and performed better. Without this diagnosis, the cause of conflict wouldn’t have been identified and given a resolution.

Acknowledge everyone’s perspective

Conflict is between two or more parties. They will have different perspectives regarding the problem, which is why you should hear everyone’s thoughts regarding the situation.

Abdul Omar, a worker at the Office of the Ombudsman in Hawaii, says that the difference in perceptions is actually the cause of conflict. When you talk to all the parties involved, you start to see how their behaviors are causing the issue — not their personality traits. For example, an employee can be perceived as incompetent by others when they’re slow to finish tasks. It’s better to address the employee and ask if there are things going on in their personal life. When employees’ perceptions are acknowledged, business owners think of better solutions that would satisfy each of the involved employee’s situations.

Brainstorm workable solutions

Now that the problem has been identified and everyone’s perceptions have been understood, possible solutions can be formulated. It is in this stage that it is crucial to practice empathy, as mentioned in our post ‘Why and How to Cultivate Empathy in Your Organization’. Empathy allows you to relate to others, thus creating the best possible solutions for them.

Keep in mind what you’ve gathered from the diagnosis and employees’ perceptions. For example, an employee that does not participate in meetings is perceived as apathetic. Upon talking to the employee, you find out it is because they aren’t given chances to talk. As a result, a solution you can come up with to satisfy all parties and address the actual problem is to extend the meeting duration. This way, the “apathetic” employee is given the opportunity to talk, others won’t perceive them as such, and there won’t be a repeat of the problem.

Implement and monitor the solution

After formulating a solution that benefits everyone, it’s time for implementation. Inform the involved parties of your proposed solution and what each of them should do in order to achieve the desired outcome.

However, resolving conflict does not stop at solution implementation. As the person running the business, you should see to it that your solution is making progress. Monitor how the people involved are reacting or changing their behavior in accordance with your suggestions. If there is no progress or the situation worsens, it’s best to step in and redo some steps like brainstorming workable solutions.

Unresolved workplace conflict will affect your employees’ performance and your business as a whole. Thus, you should take measures in order to resolve them as soon as possible.

Jamielle Bosch

Jamielle Bosch is a freelance writer who likes taking on topics regarding business, leadership, and occasionally, health. When she’s not typing on a keyboard, you can find her sketching or painting.