5 Common Workplace Miscommunications

Even the most well-run business is vulnerable to miscommunications. Managers often juggle dozens of responsibilities, while new employees come in with different backgrounds and may not know how to react. These issues don’t need to sour a good working relationship if you know how to handle them.

As the business owner, the duty of resolving conflicts and miscommunications primarily falls on you. Your employees will look to you to provide a positive approach to resolving workplace issues. By understanding the source of these common conflicts, it will be easier to resolve them.

1. Scheduling

This is one of the most common sources of employee conflicts and issues with management because it’s not uncommon for requests for time off to clash. Before this arises, it’s important to have a system in place for getting time off. The best way to handle it is with a simple first-come, first-serve system to avoid unfairness allegations.

Transparency is usually the best way to handle leadership, so before the time-off requests come in, make sure to communicate with the staff what you’re expecting in the coming weeks. Get the schedule out as quickly as possible to let people figure out any issues, and set a timeframe for requesting changes to a schedule if possible. You can also ask your staff to put in requests at least two weeks in advance to help plan earlier.

2. Internal Drama

You might want to create a positive environment in the workplace, but any area where multiple people are working together will have some drama. Ensure your human resources department is trained in mediating conflicts in positive ways without casting blame when possible. Also, attempt to solve problems preemptively before they create a hostile workplace environment.

Some basic tips for minimizing workplace drama include setting policies and clarifying roles so there’s no debate regarding who should be doing what and putting a stop to office gossip and rumors before they spiral out of control. You can also create a system for documenting office conflicts and enforcing any penalties that are deemed appropriate. Look into bringing in experts for conflict-resolution seminars to help your staff react positively.

3. Insurance

What insurance do you carry, and how does it affect your employees? What are their personal liabilities, and what will the company cover? What are their options if they’re injured in a job-related activity? These are some questions your new hires might have at their intake interview, and you should make sure you can answer them to avoid any sticky situations later.

Before you make major insurance-related decisions, make sure you know about your state’s workers’ compensation laws. This is mandated in most states, and this insurance type protects both you and your employees. Workers’ compensation benefits cover their needs if they get injured on the job. You, meanwhile, are covered from liability if they accept the benefits because they agree not to sue you or the company.

4. Feedback

As a manager, one of your most important duties will be to give feedback to your employees. This is essential to the smooth operation of a company, as you’ll want to patch up any weak spots and encourage your employees to match expectations. But everyone reacts to feedback differently, and knowing how to deliver that feedback is as important as what it contains.

Like with many things, problems can be fended off by addressing them before they arise. When your employees are brought on, ask them how they prefer to receive feedback. Schedule reviews regularly and in advance, so they know what to expect, and address small problems as they arise.

5. Role Expectations

One of the most common sources of conflict in companies is employees finding themselves redundant because another person seems to be doing their job. Every role in the company should be clearly defined, and people should know what their job duties are before they start. The more specific, the better—this should be a key part of the intake interview.

Understanding the hierarchy of the company is just as important as understanding job duties. Employees should know who to turn to when they have a question to avoid them from bothering a higher-up with questions or tasks better suited for their immediate superior. While some companies prefer a looser structure, conflicts are minimized when roles are clearly defined.

A Smoother Workplace

A conflict-free workplace probably isn’t possible—unless you’re a sole proprietor and employee, of course. But if you’re managing a team, handling these areas correctly will likely result in a more harmonious workplace. Enjoy the calm and greater productivity as your team delivers their best.