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The Greatest Mistake During Conflict

Workplace conflicts are not easy. No, I am not talking about Jonny getting pissed off by Jane microwaving fish in the office.

I am talking about situations when misconduct is brought to HR's or the manager's attention and is not dealt with properly.

I have seen it many times, someone reports misconduct or inappropriate behaviour, HR may or may not discipline the person, and the case is closed.

But it is not closed at all. Those two people still have to work together, but, likely, they cannot, and it will impact everything around them, including work. We often leave people to deal with the aftermath, but understandably, they cannot.

What often happens is that the person who highlighted the problem will leave, which is wrong. Why should organisations lose talent with integrity? They shouldn't! Sometimes we don't even need to lose those who were in the wrong, they just need to be told and disciplined for it (depending on the severity of the misconduct).

Clearing the air and having that difficult conversation with the two parties is crucial. The person in the wrong will be dismissive, defeated, ashamed, and revengeful because they got caught. The person who is right will be cocky and arrogant. These don't go together. You cannot work or live together with a defeated person. It is impossible.

More often than not, they can never be reconciled, which is ok. But this is where HR and the management need to pay attention and ask the crucial question, "Can you work together?" If the answer is no from at least one of the parties, make sure you move one of them instead of losing them.

Don't leave your employees to deal with the aftermath of their massive fallout. Likely, they will not be able to if one feels defeated and the other arrogant about winning.

This is the type of thing we should teach leaders and HR when discussing conflict resolution because that disciplinary action or a good dressing down in the HR office will not solve that. It will fuel it further.

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