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How to Handle Workplace Problems

by Melody Dawn

When individuals work together in close proximity every day, there are bound to be problems and conflicts among one another. This also is true when you have someone in a position of power telling others what to do, because most people do not like it when they are ordered around. The challenge with conflict with others lies in how well we are able to deal with it. Our ability to get along with co-workers and work through problems is what helps to create a professional workplace.

For a Supervisor

Define the problem. Carefully find out both sides of the conflict, so you can understand what the problem is and what needs to be worked on. Is the problem minor, such as two people not getting alone, or is the problem a large problem that will require professional assistance, such as harassment.

Look at your discipline procedures and company policies so you understand what will and won’t be tolerated. Every job should have clearly defined goals, so if anyone is deviating from those goals and not being productive then the behavior should be eliminated.

Schedule a meeting with all parties involved. Listen to both sides of the story before formulating an opinion. Try to remain as neutral as possible while analyzing the issue. Take excellent notes, and compare these notes with company policy.

Offer a solution to the problem. Base your decision solely on company policies and procedures. For extreme policy violations, report the problem to the human resources department. From there you should have procedures in place in regards to discipline. Follow through with all discipline procedures.

For an Employee

Tell management the problem or conflict you are having within the company. Ask what procedures are, and if the conflict is serious in nature, you should ask to be removed from that department or ask for a leave of absence while the problem is being addressed. It's important not to run and tell every time anything small happens. You should try to resolve daily conflict on your own.

File any necessary paperwork with human resources. If the conflict is harassment, you company will have procedures that need to be followed.

Remain calm and maintain control over your emotions. There is a time and a place for everything, and work is not a good place to cause a scene. If you must walk away and revisit the situation later when you’ve calmed down, then do so. Often when we’ve had time to think things over it isn’t as bad as we originally thought. Be sure to think before you act. Sometimes it's best to just turn the other cheek.

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