When employees are at each other’s throats, it’s natural to not want to get between them. Though ignoring the situation may be tempting, it is part of a manager’s job to address destructive conflict. Here’s how:
Do your own emotional flossing. Make sure you’re relating to all of your people fairly. Rather than speculating about personalities, analyze how disharmony is hurting the unit and how you can reverse it.
Clear the air. Call a meeting with the combatants to get the problem into the open. Talk about how the friction is hurting the unit. Make it plain that you expect professional behavior from everyone.
Address the causes of conflict. People may be fighting over scarce resources, perceived or real inequities. Or they may be bored. Ask for constructive suggestions on how to proceed. Schedule a follow-up meeting to measure progress and refine the plan as necessary.
Help workers communicate. In private meetings, coach employees in the skills they need to get along better. Help them describe their feelings about co-workers’ actions in an unthreatening way. Show them how to ask questions and listen carefully.
Note: As a supervisor, you can’t really force your workers to like each other. But you can make them aware of the benefits of common courtesy and guide them toward making the workplace a more peaceful and productive place.