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Any entrepreneur or small business owner knows: successful business owners and productive employees often have strong personalities. And if you get too many strong personalities in one office, you're bound to have some conflict.
Sometimes a little creative conflict can be beneficial to your business -- driving employees to be their best or challenging old ways of doing things. Other times, internal strife can tear a company apart. So how do you manage your employees' emotions and conflict in the workplace? Here are a few tips:
Whether based on in- or out-of-office stress, emotions can spill over at work. Make sure you can be both compassionate and professional as needed and you'll be able to manage a few tears in the workplace.
A little emotion at work is OK, but physical conflict or confrontation? Not so much. Beyond the fact that a criminal offense may have occurred, your small business may be liable for civil damages if you didn't take proper steps to provide a safe working environment or if you don't handle the situation properly now that a fight has happened.
A one-time incident may be excusable, but repeated, unaddressed harassment is taking conflict and emotion to an unproductive and possibly illegal level. So how is a hostile work environment defined, legally? And what can your small business do to avoid and/or address one?
When employees take it too far and an incident or situation needs to be addressed with discipline, make sure you're keeping the punishment legal. Some state statutes can limit fining employees and whether a suspension can be unpaid or not. Be careful, too, about retaliating about certain social media activity, lest you violate the National Labor Relations Act.
If a conflict or situation has become completely untenable and it's time for you and an employee to part ways permanently, there are better and worse ways to go about termination.
Consult an experienced employment attorney to make sure your handling your employees' emotions and conflicts properly and legally.