Feeling Tension at Work? How Do You Handle It Like a Pro?

February is a month for celebrating love and friendship with flowers, cards, and candy. However, not every organization is harmonious at all times. People get emotional, and conflicts arise. We are humans, after all. 


How do you deal professionally with work tensions? Our reactions as business owners set the tone for our work environment, so we must think deeply about what to do when trouble comes.  


Here are a few frequent problems in the workplace, along with some suggested solutions:  


  • Problem: Miscommunication: Employees sometimes clash because they have different perspectives on what’s expected. This is often tied to miscommunication in directives. 


Solution: Conflict resolution is best if you can eliminate trouble before it happens. Implement a clear communication protocol and ensure that all messages are concise, clear, and confirmed for understanding. Regularly scheduled check-ins can also help prevent information from being lost or misinterpreted. 


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  • Problem: Personality Conflicts: Sometimes, personalities just don’t mesh. You might have two brash employees who compete for attention, or you may have an employee quietly rooting for another to fail and taking subtle steps to make that happen. 


Solution: First, listen. Give each person a chance to talk individually with you. Explain to each that your organization is focused on the team, and when one succeeds, everyone does. If you encounter an individual who can’t buy into that mindset, it’s time for them to look elsewhere. If someone enjoys bringing down others instead of lifting them, you must address that quickly and firmly. These conversations are times to emphasize your company’s core values and expectations for team members. Put your foot down here. Don’t settle for bad behavior. It sets a terrible precedent. 


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  • Problem: Workload Imbalances: Perceptions of unequal workload can create resentment. Accepting the same pay as someone else when you’re doing twice the work is hard. 


Solution: Everyone needs to understand the expectations for their position, and responsibilities shouldn’t be out of line with pay. Once you’ve set clear deliverables for all, create incentives for exceeding expectations. Those who put in more effort need acknowledgment, both with praise and pay. Wide disparities in workloads need to be by choice, not by unfunded mandate.  


  • Problem: Work style clashes: A conflict arises between Sally, who prefers to plan every detail before acting, and Jordan, who thrives on spontaneity and likes to adapt as the project evolves. Sally feels that Jordan’s approach is haphazard and risks missing essential details, while Jordan thinks Sally’s meticulous planning stifles creativity and slows progress. 


Solution: Capitalize on the strengths of each by allocating tasks within each person’s wheelhouse. For instance, Sally could be tasked with initial planning and detail-oriented tasks, while Jordan could handle areas requiring flexibility and innovation. Express value in both ways of working. You can also develop a hybrid approach, such as agreeing on a detailed plan for the project’s initial phase but leaving room for creative input and course adjustments in later stages. 


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  • Problem: Interdepartmental conflict: Departments within a company can be at odds over resources, recognition, responsibilities, and other matters. Departments sometimes bond over their shared troubles and triumphs while failing to understand what another department is experiencing. 


Solution: Offer cross-training opportunities where employees from each department learn about the other’s roles and challenges. Revise your company’s bonus structure to include shared metrics, ensuring that both departments benefit from each other’s success. This encourages teams to work together rather than against each other. Schedule regular interdepartmental brainstorming sessions for employees with different roles to consider the company’s overall objectives.  


Business owners need to understand that conflicts sometimes arise. But knowing how you’ll react before the problem occurs is one way to stay on your toes.  


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These five tips will hopefully get those thoughts flowing. It’s your team, and you can help bring it to a positive place where it’s efficient, profitable, and fun.  


If you want to discuss your business, I’d love it. My husband and I have run multiple successful businesses over the years, and we’re always eager to listen to others’ perspectives and offer whatever help we can to fellow entrepreneurs aiming to be their best. We are a “business success management” company, working to help our clients find their groove. I’d love to work with you, too.  


Click here to set up a chat with me at your convenience.  


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