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Most supervisors know conflict is normal in the workplace, and responding to conflict is part of a supervisor's job, but there are important guidelines. It is not necessary to intervene in every conflict. On the contrary, it is usually better to leave employees alone and let them work it out. If supervisors involved themselves in every conflict, they would likely create more of them because it would send a message that employees need not cooperate, compromise, or work out power struggles with each other and instead let you work it out. These relationship skills can be undermined by the authority of a manager. A better tactic is often to monitor what is taking place. So, when should you intervene? Intervene when the issues pose some sort of larger risk to the organization, as in the case of harassment, discrimination, or potential for violence. Hold employees responsible for resolving conflicts. Never let them perpetuate. PAS can be a resource for supervisors when conflicts remain unresolved and you decide to speed up resolution by referring employees for additional help or getting a supervisor consult for more resources.

In years gone by, your approach may have been commonly recommended. However, in today's world of work, not taking action after being informed of offensive and hostile behavior is usually viewed by courts as a failure to act and negligence. Likewise, procrastination or putting off investigating the matter can be seen as apathy. This is why sexual harassment policies support employees going to the next level of management when lodging complaints. It's better to ask, "How do I act now in order to get a fast, fair resolution regarding this incident?" Think speed and responsiveness. The employee should be offered support, and Personal Assistance Service can help. Referring the employee to PAS can reduce the risk to the organization and help employee manage any sort of emotional issues brought on by the incident.

Your employees may not be motivated to resolve their differences, at least not yet. Their sense of urgency to deal with the issues between them will not be greater than a consequence for remaining in conflict and interfering with workplace productivity. Like many supervisors, you hold significant leverage and the ability to influence them toward the goal all three of you share. The question is, how long will you continue to tolerate the problems between them? It is easy to unwittingly reinforce this sort of dysfunction between workers by asking for change, pleading, coaxing, and meeting in private to “get serious” but without truly holding workers to account. So without taking a stand and deciding on an effective consequence, you can expect the problems they are experiencing to continue indefinitely. Start by meeting with PAS alone, and decide on a plan you can live with, then refer.