Employee Conflict Resolution Tips: A Guide For Food Service Managers

Conflict is one of the most jarring things we have to face. But unfortunately, most of us are no strangers to it, especially in the workplace.

As human beings, we experience conflict daily, whether it be with friends, family members, or colleagues. However, in the workplace, conflict can cause even larger degrees of frustration and tension as everyone tries to maintain a sense of professionalism. It’s likely that trying to maintain a level of professionalism is what’s resulted in the built-up tension that eventually ruptures into a conflict.

In working environments where people have varying viewpoints on the same issues, there’s bound to be some disagreement here and there. In the fast-paced, often stressful restaurant industry, there are added pressures in the mix. This makes resolving conflicts even more important, as unhappy employees can have a major impact on the smooth running of operations.

Let’s take a closer look at useful conflict resolution tips food service managers can use in their restaurants.

Identify The Source Of The Conflict

The first step in employee conflict resolution is identifying the source of the problem.

By finding the cause of the conflict, you can determine how the issue came to be in the first place. Furthermore, you will also be able to hear both sides of the story, which will afford you the opportunity to hear the issue out from both perspectives. This will provide you with insights into the needs that are not being properly met or addressed. In turn, this will help you to better understand exactly what is going on, allowing you to properly assess the situation and find sustainable solutions.

Keep asking questions and trying to understand the issue at hand. This ensures that you fully grasp the issue and help find a resolution that suits both parties.

Create A Safe Space For Employees To Talk

One of the best approaches to peaceful employee conflict resolution is by communicating and having a constructive conversation.

To do this, you need to create an environment in which employees feel safe to speak in. This will open doors for honest communication so that you can best resolve the issues at hand.

Before trying to resolve any conflict or issues, create a safe space where employees can speak openly, honestly, and privately. A kitchen or busy restaurant is not the place for conversation. You need to step outside or into an office where there are no prying eyes or wagging ears.

Employees will be far more willing to hold a dialogue once they are confident that they can speak up without scrutiny.

Listen Carefully

One of the most important aspects of employee conflict resolution is making sure that all parties concerned feel heard.

Once you have found a private, secure space, afford each party the opportunity to speak up.

Give each of them plenty of time to express their concerns and thoughts. But show no favor to either one. While they speak, listen carefully, and take notes of what they are saying. This will go a long way further down the line as you try to identify appropriate solutions with them.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

An excellent conflict resolution tip is to rethink your position and see the situation from the employee’s perspective. All too often, a severe gap between management and the rest of a food service team is found. This causes a disconnect. More often than not, management cannot relate to what the rest of the team is feeling or going through.

When this happens, it becomes almost impossible for employees to want to connect and share openly with those overseeing them. This is why it’s so important to try and put yourself in their shoes to resolve a conflict.

Think about what it would be like to be them in that particular situation. Not only will you find it easier to relate to other members of the team, but it will also become easier to work towards a solution with thorough understanding.

Focus On The Facts

There are always two sides to every story. This is particularly true for conflict in the workplace.

When working towards employee conflict resolution, it’s essential that you stay focused on facts, rather than allowing anyone’s story to cloud your judgment.

As the mediator, it’s important that you look at things from both perspectives. But you need to be careful not to form any opinions on the matter. This is a sure-fire way for you to favor one party over the other.

Instead, concentrate on the facts you’re given. This will help you make the best possible decisions moving forward and will ensure that the eventual outcome of the conflict resolution remains fair and unbiased.

Find A Common Goal

One of the keys to any resolution of conflict is to find a common goal. This will give both parties the necessary motivation to work towards resolving the issue.

Once you’ve determined the source of the conflict and investigated the situation, sitting down to talk with those involved should be your next step.

During this conversation, discuss the common ways in which everyone involved can work together to find a mutually beneficial solution. This solution should eliminate the potential for future conflict too.

Agree On Responsibilities Moving Forward

To help minimize the risk of future conflict with food service employees, it’s important to establish what each employee’s responsibilities are going forward. And how that scope of responsibilities could potentially differ in the future.

By identifying solutions that each party is pleased with, you can help make sure that everyone is fully aware of the areas and touch points they need to focus their attention on. This eliminates any grey areas that could lead to more confusion or conflict.

Strong leadership is the mark of a good food service manager, and building and maintaining a cohesive, happy team essential to success. Restaurant employees must work together under pressure, and there’s no room for conflict that can affect productivity, hamper performance, or damage a team.

Use these conflict resolution tips to make your restaurant a conflict-free zone.

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