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How to Resolve Common Sources of Dispute In Small Businesses

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

When left unresolved, conflict can lead to disaster for small businesses.

The more issues arise in your company, the more likely you are to struggle with symptoms of significant workplace stress, absenteeism, and even “toxic workplace culture.”

Unnecessary disputes in your company might mean that your managers spend more time-solving problems than doing crucial work to grow the company.

On top of that, a dispute in small companies can lead to poor relationships between staff members. When your employees don’t feel like they’re part of a cohesive team, they’re more likely to look for alternative forms of employment.

So, what can you do about the productivity poison that is conflict?

Conflict Issue #1: Resources

Conflict over access to resources is common in smaller businesses. Things like equipment and money aren’t going to be flowing freely, at least not in the beginning. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure that the investments you make don’t seem based on any favoritism.

If you’re investing in new tools for your finance team this week, and can’t provide the same support to your marketing team, explain why.

Make sure that there’s a roadmap in place for your team where everyone can see how resources are going to be allocated, and where their needs fall in the hierarchy of what’s best for the business.

Highlighting the benefits of your decision to use resources in a particular area and showing your team members that you’re not ignoring their needs is great for reducing conflict.

Conflict Issue #2: Roles and Opportunities

As a business leader, you’re not just selling your company to possible customers and clients. You’re also selling it to candidates that you want to work with you.

One of the most important things you can do to convince people that they want to be a part of your team is to show them that they have room for growth. Today’s employees want to see a future in your team.

Whenever someone new joins your team, make sure that you talk to them about their vision and what they hope to achieve in the future.

You can also use this time as an opportunity to explain how advancement opportunities work in your company.

For instance, you might allow all employees to ask about promotions after two years of working in the same role. Setting the ground rules from the beginning and sticking with them will reduce conflict.

Conflict Issue #3: Payment and Benefits

Bonuses and extra benefits are a great way to show some of your most valuable employees how much you appreciate their hard work. However, it mustn’t seem as though some employees are always earning more than their counterparts for no reason.

When you’re bringing someone new into your team, do your research. Find out what a competitive salary looks like for the role you’re trying to fill and try not to offer less than that.

At the same time, when opportunities arise to give people a pay bump, make sure that your employees know exactly where this bonus cash is coming from.

If someone on your senior team is earning extra money now, it might be worth clarifying that they’re doing more than other members with the same role by giving them a new title. This reduces the confusion that comes when people with the same job earn different incomes.

Conflict Issue #4: Workflow Issues

Building a diverse team of people with different talents is one of the best ways to make sure that your company is prepared for everything. If everyone you worked with looked at things the same way, you’d never discover the benefits of out-of-the-box thinking.

However, if you don’t have any established processes in place, this can sometimes lead to disruptions.

For instance, allowing your marketing team to work according to their own schedule as long as they hit a deadline might be fine at first. But this strategy begins to cause issues when a sales team has to put their activity on pause because they don’t know when a campaign will be complete.

Make sure that your entire workforce can operate cohesively as a group.

Conflict Issue #5: Scheduling

Scheduling issues are probably one of the most common workplace issues at all. While it’s nice for team members to switch their hours when they need to – particularly if they’re working remotely, this can cause disruptions for other staff members.

If your business operates in shifts, sooner or later some employees might start to feel that they are constantly working odd hours and shifts. In addition to creating tensions between employees, this will also affect their work-life balance, and lead to loss of productivity.

Having the right system in place can help you to overcome arbitrary scheduling issues and unintentional biases. Scheduling tools will also ensure that even if you are working with remote people and employees from around the world, people don’t miss out on critical communications.

A fixed system will also help you demonstrate that you distribute the hours fairly if there is ever a dispute over this issue.

You can still give your team members a degree of freedom, without allowing your entire team to fall into chaos. All you need is a strategy.

Get Rid of Company Conflict

Conflict is a common issue that businesses from any industry can face. However, too much conflict in your team can quickly lead to disruptions and problems with productivity.

Learning how to overcome some of the most common causes of workplace issues will ensure that you can continue to get the most out of your team.

At the same time, a reduction in conflict will lead to a happier workforce. That means less turnover, and less time spent searching for new people to fill your empty roles.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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