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How to Handle Conflict Among Colleagues

By: Regina M. Tucker
Posted: November 29, 2012, from the December 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

In an ideal skin care world, team members work alongside one another harmoniously and have a healthy respect for management. There is rarely a conflict and, when there is, it is quickly resolved without lingering resentments and grudges. If only the ideal were the reality. While spas are designed to be relaxing havens for clients, behind the scenes, it is not uncommon for conflicts and rivalries to arise between team members. Left unresolved, conflict can cause tension, anger and stress. Managing conflict among team members can be baffling and stressful, and it should be navigated with care. Following are several ideas about how to approach conflict among team members within your skin care facility.

Rivalries: healthy and unhealthy

There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition among your team: sales contests, programs to reward those with the most requests per month and contests to honor those who can do the most up-selling for the month are all par for the course in the spa world. These types of contests can even help motivate team members and serve as incentives to spur them on to higher performance. Healthy rivalries usually bring team members together; not divide and separate them.

Unhealthy rivalries are riddled with conflict. Technicians talk negatively about other colleagues, personal attacks take place that have nothing to do with job performance and unethical behavior is engaged in on the job, such as speaking poorly about a co-worker to clients. The causes of conflict between individuals can be due to anything ranging from differences in personalities, work ethic and jealousies, to personal insecurity. Conflict can bring out the worst in people and can be counterproductive to the skin care facility as a whole.

When is it time for management to step in? Management may not always be tuned in to what is going on behind the scenes, especially if the facility is large; however, if a rivalry is brought to your attention or you sense one brewing among your staff, it is important that you handle it with care. Management may have to intervene to assist colleagues who are in conflict if someone feels threatened, if an employee comes to you and requests your involvement, or if the rivalry is impacting client service and other employees.

Management’s role

If you need to become involved, you may arrange a meeting with the parties involved to iron out a solution. Don’t be surprised if they are apprehensive about having a meeting. Set the tone by reminding them about the work environment you strive for and tell them the goal of the meeting is to maintain a comfortable atmosphere that is tension-free for the team as a whole. Next, meet with both parties separately before the joint meeting to listen to and honor their opinions, feelings and perspectives. Be careful not to take sides; just listen and take notes so that you can mediate the joint meeting effectively. When you bring the conflicting parties together, focus on a solution and guide the meeting by addressing any pertinent ideas that came up in your one-on-one sessions. This is not a time for the conflicting parties to relive incidents, bash the other person, or change points of views, personalities or perspectives. As a mediator, it is important to stay neutral; stick to facts, not feelings, and guide conflicting parties to solutions.