Managers often have to deal with conflict among staff members. Clashes can become disruptive if not dealt with properly. But how do you quell arguments and create a team-oriented environment? “My overall philosophy is ‘Seek to understand,’” says Helen Vanderburg, president of Heavens Fitness in Calgary, Alberta. “My best advice is to confront the problem without judgment. It’s difficult to not have an opinion of who you think is right or wrong, but a good leader must stay neutral until hearing all sides of the story.” Vanderburg approaches each situation on a case-by-case basis. “Depending upon the situation, I would either meet with each person individually, and then [the two] together, or have a first meeting with both parties involved.” Be sure to focus on finding a solution, instead of concentrating on the problem, she adds. “Establish ground rules for what is acceptable and not acceptable in your conflict resolution. Then establish steps for each party to take to move forward.”

To learn more about handling workplace conflict, read the following articles, available in IDEA’s online library,

  • “Resolving Workplace Conflict” by Amanda Vogel, MA, May 2004 IDEA Fitness Manager
  • “The Conflict Resolution Matrix” by Jim Gavin, PhD, and Don de Guerre, PhD, May 2003 IDEA Health & Fitness Source
  • “Conflict Resolution Toolbox” by Tatiana Kolovou, MBA, November–December 2004 IDEA Fitness Journal