Turnover Tuesday: Managing Work Place Conflict between Departments

Actual Comments on Why Employees Leave:

“For the most part, the office staff got along fairly well, but there is definitely a division between groups. The service department and sales department seem to work against each other instead of with each other. The sales force is an overpaid, under worked staff which causes them to not be respected by those in the office. The service staff takes on work that should be given to the sales person because they don’t like the conflict and just take it on themselves.”

The Solution

Negative energy is contagious in any workplace. If an employee has a conflict with a coworker or manager or if there is a dissonance between departments it can weaken not only company morale, productivity, and customer satisfaction. When employees become frustrated with workplace conflict they are tempted to search for a more positive, harmonious work environment. Spending time to break down barriers between very interdependent groups to resolve differences is imperative to retention of employees and customers.

Although conflict is essentially inevitable, there are steps you can take to make sure your employees know you are looking out for rifts and taking steps to remedy conflicts and prevent future situations.

Factors that may be contributing to such conflict between groups could include: • Lack of common goals • Poor communication between sales and service • Unclear definition of sales tasks versus service tasks • Little support from management • Lack of job recognition between sales and service • Personality conflicts

Employee Conflict Resolution Guidelines: • Providing forums for such highly dependent groups to share goals, process improvements, problems and concerns • Assess the situation, listening to all sides of the conflict, do not postpone or avoid the issues • Encourage employees to approach the situation with a constructive attitude • Use neutral language and be impartial as you address conflict • Listen actively and do not interrupt employees as they describe the issues at hand • Avoid judgmental remarks or sweeping generalizations

Overall, being aware and taking action is crucial when it comes to handling workplace conflict.

(Turnover Tuesday is a blog post brought to you by Human Systems Development, an exit interview company that helps other companies reduce employee turnover by providing automated reference checking, exit interviews and by measuring employee retention. The comments this blog is based off of are collected from exit interviews we have conducted in the workplace with ExitRight, HSD’s exit interviewing service. We put the privacy of our clients at the top of our priority list; therefore we keep the names of all involved completely confidential. Return weekly for Turnover Tuesday, to reduce employee turnover within your organization).

About Deb Dwyer

Deborah Dwyer is the founder and president of HSD Metrics. With over 30 years of combined experience in human resource management and survey research, Deborah’s extensive knowledge reaches beyond organizational research to include significant expertise in work climate improvement, retention, hiring and selection, employee orientation, performance management systems, recognition programs, and career development systems.

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