You've noticed the tension rising between a couple of employees who work within earshot of each other but obviously aren't the best of friends. Employee A is vocal, assertive and a little bit of a know-it-all; she gives the most feedback, so much so, that other voices often go unheard. Whenever Employee B's client asks her a question, Employee A chimes right in to answer. And if there's an improvement to be made at your salon, Employee A will always be the one to voice her opinion, loudly enough so that other lash artists — and clients — can hear it all.
One day, Employee B has had enough. The next time Employee A gives her client feedback, Employee B speaks up. Not in front of her client, but in the back office. It's easy enough for the whole salon to feel the tension, though. Employee B lets months of unheard frustration out, which shocks Employee A, who only thought she was helping and believes Employee B is totally in the wrong.
Just like you can cut tension with a knife at uneasy family get-togethers, at rival sports games, or when impatient people are waiting in a long line, the feeling of tension can be very real in a salon. And when you work in tight quarters with a small team, employee harmony is crucial to maintaining a positive business.
“People issues” are a leading cause of workplace stress, the American Institute of Stress reports. That stress can lead to problems like high turnover, mistakes, and a bad reputation for your salon. Unresolved conflicts don't just affect the parties directly involved. Other lash artists may feel compelled to choose sides or avoid their coworkers altogether. Feelings of animosity can trickle into the client experience and create an unprofessional atmosphere.
Conflict doesn't have to be a negative experience, especially when it is dealt with quickly, professionally, and productively. Here are some tips to effectively resolve a conflict between employees.
1. Identify the Source of the Conflict
Managers or salon owners may know there's a conflict, but the source of the conflict isn't always easy to spot. There are many potential sources of conflict that could be affecting your salon or spa. Some include:
- Personality differences
- Gossip and rumors
- Poor communication
- Internal changes
- Industry changes
- Competition for resources
You might learn about the friction directly from one of the sources, or from another staff member, or you'll just notice it yourself. It's best to ask an impartial party or parties not directly involved in the conflict for their opinion on the source, since each party involved will likely try to convince you why they're right. Once you have some background info, you can bring the involved parties together to face the dispute.
2. Don't Avoid, Address the Issue Quickly
It can be tempting to ignore conflict in the hopes of maintaining an environment that is, on the surface, harmonious. However, the longer a disagreement is ignored, the more it can fester internally and grow into something much bigger and complicated.
Forbes recommends taking action when there is evidence of an employee negatively impacting another employee or team members. This is why close observation and asking neutral parties what is going on will help you better address the problem. Some signs include:
- Employee attitudes become morose, or lash artists are more prone to angry reactions.
- You notice an increase in absenteeism or turnover.
- Clients or another lash artist directly comments about a situation.
Conflict that results in changes in employee behavior, increased employee absences, a noticeable reduction in productivity and increased stress levels should be addressed sooner than later, Forbes recommends, to prevent prolonged effects to morale and productivity.
3. Be the Mediator
To begin the conflict resolution process, bring all parties involved together to address the problem. Let each party briefly state their version of what's going on, one at a time, uninterrupted. Be careful to listen to what work conditions might be contributing to the conflict.
There are things that you as a manager or lash salon owner may be doing to make the conflict worse. Do some self-evaluation and amend anything that may be standing in the way of resolution.
Then, ask each party what specific outcomes they would like to see as part of from the conflict resolution. Ask the other parties involved if those outcomes seem reasonable and if they can agree to them. Work through any objections to the outcomes by deciding on compromises to which all parties can agree.
Conclude the meeting by stating the consequences and next steps that will occur if the conflict is not resolved or if similar problems happen in the future, such as disciplinary actions. End the meeting on a positive note by stating you have full confidence that the employees can adhere to the agreement they have set forth.
Go Forward with Vigilance
Conflicts are not necessarily bad in the workplace, and they're bound to happen among work teams at some point. In some cases, conflict can spur growth and greater understanding and respect. The key to managing conflict effectively is to address it in a timely manner and come up with constructive ways of working through it now and in the future.
Now that you've resolved this conflict, be on the lookout for signs of it cropping up again. Be proactive in all-staff meetings to foster an open dialogue where employees feel comfortable voicing concerns with each other in a productive manner. Make sure your team knows you are open and available to talk about concerns they may have, since your goal is peace and understanding at your salon.
Want more tips on how to manage a cohesive workplace? Check out our video on how to create a better work-life balance for salon employees. Read about how to foster freedom in the workplace here.
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