No one enjoys tension in the office. Confronting an uncomfortable situation head on is often difficult to do while remaining professional, so it can be easy to let tensions bubble until they hit boiling point.
For employees, getting drawn into office politics is often part and parcel of the environment. That’s why every small business employer should go the extra mile to ensure they do their best to diffuse office tensions. Here are the steps you should take when dealing with office politics.
Whether it’s underhand tactics, unfair comments or plain office bullying, you can bet that tensions in the office are at their highest when you’re away.
The simple answer is to be as present in the office as possible. This may not work logistically if you need to be at meetings all the time, directors often have lots of appointments that keep them away from their desk. However, you should still make an effort to be as available as much as possible.
This may just mean nipping in to have your lunch or catching up on your emails a couple of times a day, but as long as employees feel like they’re able to discuss issues with you, they’ll be more likely to open up and keep you in the loop with what’s going on.
Keep it neutral
If you do come across difficulties in the office, you should be the voice of reason and act as a mediator, rather than taking sides. It can be easy to jump in and assume you know who’s in the right, but as the employer you should stay as impartial as possible.
Involve only the necessary parties and go to a private space where you’re able to discuss the situation without creating next month’s office gossip. Give each person a chance to speak and come to a resolution that suits everybody as much as it can.
You can avoid tensions further by making sure you’re creating enough time for after work activities and perks.
These will bring colleagues closer together and allow them to create bonds outside the workplace. By organising quarterly events, you’re able to involve employees in the process on where they want to go and help distinguish that clear line of communication between yourself and your staff.
Have clear roles
As a growing company, the roles of your first few employees will most likely be flexible and ever shifting, changing their role as the business grows. This can cause issues between employees who are unsure of their responsibilities.
From day one, you should make sure each employee knows what their own responsibilities are by providing them with a defined job title – even if that includes them doing other bits and bobs in between. This way, there is no confusion over who takes charge of what, and staff will be more able to work alongside each other smoothly.