Sorry about that title, bet you’re singing that ‘catchy’ tune now aren’t you! Most of us have been in a position where we have felt hard done by, or that actions by colleagues, managers or work policies have been unkind or unjust. Feelings of resentment can start to build and they can have an enormous impact not only on our work output but also on our wellbeing.

Cost of lost days

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that in 2016/17 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety with some of the factors causing the wellbeing issues including:

Put a financial value against 12.5 million days and you have an issue you just can’t afford to ignore!  Obviously, we could go into great depth on all the various factors impacting employees, but we’ve only got your attention for a limited time, so let’s look at probably the most contentious – personality issues!

Personality issues

It is inevitable that when different personalities are working in close proximity there are going to be personality clashes. What is acceptable to me, wouldn’t necessarily be acceptable to you and without communication and acceptance of differences, office grudges are born.  This can at best be uncomfortable, but if the grudge materialises between manager and employee it becomes untenable and needs addressing by an impartial third party (preferably more senior than the Manager involved).

Approaches to resolving conflict

The best approach would be for both sides to sit down and openly discuss the issues, agree on a plan to move forwards and forgive any previous conflict. Whilst many of us would struggle to forget a wrongdoing, the key is to forgive behaviours, for our own wellbeing and for surrounding colleagues. Those that are unable to forgive can develop deeper feelings of resentment, which could impact on workload and the office culture. They may even try to get others ‘on side’, creating further animosity in the workplace. So in these circumstances, what can senior management do to resolve these issues?

Firstly, it may take several conversations to address the root cause of the problem. The individual may well have a case for feeling upset and if so, based on fact not hearsay, the Senior Manager will need to address the issues separately with the other parties involved – it is useful to document these discussions to reflect on future progress. If this approach fails to work and an employee is refusing to overcome an issue, a performance improvement plan may be appropriate and to make collaborative working part of a legitimate performance objective.

You can also hold regular 1 to 1’s, schedule in some coaching sessions and even book the individual on a formal training course, all of which are designed to ensure the employee feels they are being listened to, that you are invested in their wellbeing and that although you may not agree with their position, you are showing empathy towards them.

However, we do have to remember as adults in the workplace that there has to be a level of ownership.  Once an employee realises that they have allowed their emotions to impact their professionalism they may just learn to ‘Let it Go, Let it Go’……(yes, it will be stuck in your head all day now, enjoy)!