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Clamp down on employee's fighting before it blows up in your face!

by , 30 October 2013
Robert and Themba are fighting - again! This time it's in front of a customer. You have to put a stop to the problem... But what can you do?

Here's how to nip it in the bud before it spreads...

Although there's nothing that tells you what to do legally, you need to minimise destructive bickering as it can damage your company's reputation.


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Have you experienced one of these situations?
  • You've disciplined your employee and have to give him a written warning;
  • The health and safety inspector is due for a visit;
  • You need to prove you're compliant with the law;
  • You've got a temporary employee starting tomorrow; and
  • You need an employment contract.
The documents for just these three issues will take you hours to compile. I know all the administration around employees takes up so much of your valuable time. You've really got more important things to do than draw up a warning letter or simple contract from scratch. You need it done for you. And we've done just that.

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Four tricks to resolve conflict in the workplace
  1. Implement a policy or update your existing policy, for example, in your code of conduct. It must firmly remind employees they operate in a place of business and must leave their personal issues aside when they're on your time.
  2. Tell them to use your grievance procedure if they have legitimate complaints and not personal gripes, against each other.
  3. Tell them to conduct themselves professionally. Warn them you'll formally discipline them for disruptive behaviour if they can't put their personal differences aside at work. You could move one of them into another department to split them up if you need to.
  4. Get someone independent to mediate their differences if necessary. Talk to them together, in a joint meeting rather than separately. They won't be able to point fingers at you for picking sides because they're both getting the same message at the same time. Joint meetings also stop unsubstantiated hearsay. For example, Jane says Joe thinks you're very abrasive, that way she deflects the blame from herself.
If it's not possible to do this, try the following trick…


Have you ever asked one of these questions?
  • I want to take disciplinary action against an employee, what are the minimum requirements for the CCMA?
  • Can I ask my poor performer to resign?
  • How long do I need to tolerate an employee being consistently late for work?
  • Who must pay the medical bills if one employee assaults another?
  • Can we dismiss an employee for vandalism?
Or what about:
  • Can I terminate my employee's employment based on incapacity?
If you've ever asked yourself – or a colleague – even one of these questions then you need these answers...
One more trick to stop fighting in the workplace
Ask each employee to respond to the following statements in private. Don't allow any finger pointing, only positive statements:
  • I believe my colleague should…
  • My colleague believes I should…
  • My colleague believes he/she should…
Then bring both of them together and help them solve the problem by jointly agreeing to a positive plan of action.
Make sure you have all the right policies and procedures in your company to stop fighting and other employee issues! 50 HR Policies and Procedures has everything you need, click here to keep reading.
Until next time,
Taryn Strugnell
P.S. It's nearing that time of year again when you have to do performance appraisals, do you have the first software in South Africa to help you with yours? Click here now if you don't...

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