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How to Resolve Conflict Between Staff

Tension & Conflict are common in any workplace, so conflicts can arise from time to time at your club. These conflicts, however minor, can disrupt the harmony and morale of the team. Therefore addressing them promptly and effectively is essential to maintaining a positive environment for both staff and children.

While it’s always best to let the staff work out their conflicts themselves, sometimes, intervention might be necessary. In such cases, there are a few steps you can take to mediate.

This article offers practical strategies and scenario-based examples to help you resolve conflicts between staff members and foster a supportive and collaborative atmosphere.

Scenario 1: Communication Breakdown

Imagine this: Two staff members, let’s call them Alice and Ben, have been experiencing tension due to miscommunication about their responsibilities during after-school activities. This has led to overlapping tasks and missed duties, causing both of them to feel frustrated.

What you can do:

Schedule a mediation meeting where both parties can safely express their concerns and perspectives in a structured format.

Steps you can take:

  • Organise a meeting with Alice and Ben, ensuring a neutral and private setting.

  • Use a talking stick (a tangible object given to each person to use when they are speaking) to ensure each person is heard without interruption. Only the person holding the talking stick can talk.

  • Facilitate the discussion, by guiding them to share specific instances of miscommunication.

What you can expect:

Alice and Ben can clarify their roles and responsibilities, reducing misunderstandings and improving collaboration.

Scenario 2: Personality Clashes

Imagine this: Sarah and Tom have conflicting personalities, leading to frequent arguments and a tense working environment.

What you can do:

Train them to sharpen their active listening skills so they better understand each other’s viewpoints. Active listening can help the other person feel heard and increase empathy.

Steps you can take:

  • Conduct a workshop on active listening, including techniques such as paraphrasing and reflecting.

  • During staff meetings, practise these techniques by summarising each other’s points before responding.

What you can expect:

Sarah and Tom learn to listen actively, leading to greater understanding and respect for each other’s perspectives, thereby reducing conflicts.

Scenario 3: Differences in Work Styles

Imagine this: Jenny prefers a structured approach to planning activities, while Mark thrives in a more flexible and spontaneous environment. Their differing work styles create tension during planning sessions.

What you can do:

In such cases, there is no right or wrong way to do things. Sometimes, people have different teaching styles and by picking a side to mediate conflict you may have a biased opinion. Instead, bring in a neutral third party to help them find a middle ground.

Steps you can take:

  • Bring in an external person to mediate, this could be a trained professional or a more senior staff member.

  • Schedule a mediation session where Jenny and Mark can discuss their preferences and find a compromise.

  • Encourage them to establish a planning method that incorporates elements of both structure and flexibility.

What you can expect: With the mediator’s help, Jenny and Mark develop a planning process that respects both styles, reducing tension and enhancing teamwork.

Scenario 4: Competition and Jealousy

Imagine this: Emily feels overshadowed by John, who has received several commendations from parents. This is a natural and common situation that can foster resentment and competitive behaviour if not addressed properly.

What you can do: To help them resolve their feelings of jealousy, team-building activities are helpful. They can strengthen relationships and reduce feelings of competition.

Steps you can take:

  • Plan monthly team-building events, such as collaborative games or social outings.

  • Encourage activities that require teamwork and highlight each member’s strengths.

What you can expect: Through regular team-building activities, Emily and John can develop a stronger bond, reducing feelings of jealousy and fostering a more cooperative environment.

While you can do your best to reduce feelings of resentment and conflict at your club, having clear policies and setting strong boundaries can go a long way in maintaining a peaceful working environment.

Here are some policies to implement:

Conflict Resolution Policy: Establish a clear policy outlining steps for conflict resolution, including documentation and follow-up procedures.

  • Document the nature of conflicts and hold meetings with involved parties.

  • Apply active listening and seek mediation if necessary. Follow up to ensure resolutions are effective.

Create a code of conduct that outlines acceptable behaviours and communication standards.

  • Draft the code of conduct with input from staff.

  • Distribute the finalised code and incorporate it into training programs.

  • Regularly review and update the code as needed.

Conflict Management Training:

  • Include conflict management and communication skills in the annual CPD plan.

  • Offer workshops or online courses on conflict resolution. Track CPD progress and provide additional support as needed.

Peer Support Groups:

  • Establish peer support groups where staff can discuss and resolve issues collaboratively.

  • Schedule regular meetings facilitated by trained staff. Encourage open discussion and mutual support.

By implementing these strategies and policies, you can effectively manage conflicts between staff, creating a more harmonious and productive environment.

Transforming tension into teamwork not only enhances the workplace atmosphere but also positively impacts the children’s experience at the club.

If you would like to learn more in-depth about how to manage conflict, how to set up policies and more download our free conflict resolution guide below.

The guide includes practical tips, suggestions and a checklist to help you become a pro at managing such situations.