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How to resolve issues between employees

Becky Rodriguez for Progressive Dairy Published on 15 October 2021

For many in the dairy industry, personal strengths are typically working with cows, equipment and running the farm. As farms have expanded, managers have had to hire outside help to keep the farms successful and growing. With the addition of employees, many owners and managers have had to adjust their management practices and learn to work with different personality types.

The more the team grows, the more often you will run into disputes between employees. As a manager or owner, managing employees is a crucial piece of your farm’s success. It’s also a skill that must be learned – some may even say it’s an art. When resolving issues between employees, many times it comes down to whether it is a work issue or a personal issue. The subject of the issue, along with the severity of the conflict, will determine how you find a resolution.

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For either work or personal issues between employees, we highly recommend working with a third-party outside mediator, particularly one who is bilingual if you’re working with language barriers. It’s best to find someone who has no stake in the outcome of the situation. This will help all parties involved feel their voices are being heard equally. Many times, if a friend or co-worker is translating, some involved may feel like the translator is taking sides. Additionally, if language is a barrier, it’s even more important to have an outside translator present who is experienced in mediating these situations. You want to ensure that everyone involved is able to communicate his or her views and understand what is being said.

When it comes to work-related disagreements, these are usually easier to resolve because they tend to be more factually based and not as emotionally charged. If the disagreement is related to how a job is being done, who is supposed to complete certain duties, etc., there are a few steps you can take to work through the issues. The first is to keep things factual. Refer to your employee handbook or written standard operating procedures to discuss how the issue should be handled. Ensure that those involved are very clear on your expectations of how tasks should be completed and how you are expecting them to resolve the issue and act moving forward. Be very clear and firm in your directions and set goals for resolving any issues. If possible, have all affected employees and managers sit down for a meeting together to ensure they are all clear on the resolution and know their duties and expectations moving forward.

When issues of a personal nature come up between employees that is affecting their work, this is where things can get a bit trickier. Only get involved in personal issues if absolutely necessary. It’s best to keep personal and work issues separate, but as we all know, this isn’t always possible. If you do need to intervene, sit down with each individual separately to get a feel for each side of the story and determine the best course of action. Once you’ve gotten the story from all involved, depending on the situation, you may want to sit everyone down together to get to the bottom of the concern and find a resolution. However, if you do get everyone together, it’s important that you are always in control of the meeting because personal issues can get out of control quickly. If you feel there is going to be continual tension between the parties involved, it may be best to separate those affected on different shifts. It may even be necessary to let the employee(s) know that bringing personal issues to work will not be tolerated and they either have to resolve their differences or move on to other employment.

Resolving problems between employees is never a fun part of the job description, but it is nonetheless necessary. By keeping a level head and allowing each person’s voice to be heard, you can quickly and efficiently put issues to rest so everyone can go back to working cohesively.  end mark

Becky Rodriguez is an operations manager at AgriStaff USA. Email Becky Rodriguez.

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