There are always going to be different types of personalities in the workplace and not everyone’s going to get on all the time. But with a large portion of people’s lives spent at work, a harmonious environment is at the top of the pile when it comes to the well-being of your team.

An uneasy or tense atmosphere isn’t good for motivation or productivity, and that’s bad news for your business as a whole. As a manager, it’s your job to spot the signs of conflict early and to step in quickly to get it sorted out. Ignoring tension and allowing conflict to fester and escalate will have serious repercussions if it ends up as a formal grievance or tribunal.

Here are some signs to watch out for, and how to deal with personality conflicts quickly and easily:

What Is Conflict?

Thankfully, serious conflicts such as bullying and discrimination are less common. And at the other end of the spectrum, some conflicts can be positive – healthy competition between team members encourages people to excel and reach their goals and targets, in turn allowing you to reach your own. Healthy rivalry is good. But when the conflict takes a darker turn and relationships become strained, you need to step in. A conflict between two people can soon spread wider with other staff taking sides.

Signs and Symptoms 

The signs of a personality clash may not always be obvious. In some cases, there will be no getting away from it – it’s difficult to ignore a stand-up row in the middle of the office.

Other signs aren’t so obvious. You may begin to notice indications such as a member of staff being talked about or being left out of social events. A team member’s motivation and productivity may drop, or there may be an increase in absenteeism from sickness, or their once impeccable punctuality starts to slide.

Related Article: 6 Ways a Leader Can Mediate Team Conflict

What to Do

Use your judgement of the situation and the people involved to assess if the conflict is minor enough to leave them to be treated like the adults they are, and left to resolve their differences on their own.

Related:  Shortcomings of “Quick Fix” Corporate Leadership

If not, then it’s time for you to step in. Speak to them individually, remaining impartial. Listen carefully and be understanding. Ask them how the conflict started, if there is anything you can do to help, and what would be their ideal resolution.

After speaking to each team member individually, hold a meeting where you can speak to them together. Encourage them to be open and honest to each other and to air their feelings, while keeping calm and professional.

If there’s a specific reason for the bad feelings between them and you’ve got to the root of the problem, airing their grievances about each other in a formal setting will hopefully allow a resolution to be agreed upon.

But if their conflict is purely a personality clash and they’re never going to get on, you may decide to physically separate them by moving one of them to another part of the office or to delegate tasks where they don’t have to interact.

Whatever the outcome, documenting everything thoroughly during the process, in case things escalate to a formal grievance and you need to show the steps you took to prevent this happening, is of vital importance.

How Should Leaders Handle Conflicts of Personality?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Gary Bury
Gary Bury is co-founder and CEO of Timetastic, an independent and profitable web app for managing time off work, used by thousands of companies around the world.
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