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Watching for Progress after Coworker Conflict-Resolution Meetings

So you've concluded a conflict-resolution situation between two of your employees. You’re hopeful that the conflict is behind them and that they’re both moving on. So how will you know if things are on track or if you need to step in with another course of action? You have to pay attention to determine what’s next.

Complimenting their progress

Give your employees a little recognition for the risks they took in trying to resolve a conflict themselves; they’ll appreciate it even if they were unsuccessful in resolving the situation. Say something like, “I appreciate your willingness to give it a shot. It’s not always easy to see eye to eye on things. Your willingness to try indicates to me that we’ll find an answer. We may just need to try a different approach.”

Keep in mind each person’s comfort level with receiving compliments — some people are a bit uncomfortable with praise. Even if one of your team members is the most humble person around, you can find a way to compliment him. A sincere e-mail, handwritten note, or after-hours voicemail can go a long way in helping him know he’s on the right track.

Knowing what to watch for

Look for a number of different indicators to determine whether your employees have been successful in putting the past behind them.

Your answers to the following questions can help you pinpoint trouble spots:

  • How do they interact? Are they respectful of one another? Are the other team members comfortable with how the two are behaving?

  • Are they able to share information freely?

  • Can they work together when necessary?

  • Are they finishing projects in a timely manner?

  • Are they working through problems or pointing fingers?

  • Do repeat issues keep popping up?

Responding to progress

Keep a watchful but subtle eye on the situation. If you overdo it, your questions will remind them of their troubles and may indicate that you don’t trust them to follow through.

If you think that they’re doing really well, you can casually say, “How’s it been going since you talked?” and give them space to share their good news. If you see specific concerns, bring those to light and ask for any solutions. You may say, “I noticed whenever we have a new order come in that the two of you seem a bit tense. Is there anything we can do to prevent that?”

Your check-ins should be matched appropriately to specific, observable behavior. Not checking in at all could lead them to feel unsupported and uncomfortable asking for additional resources that they feel are necessary for continued success.

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