Preventing relationship problems

The best way to prevent relationship problems is to have policies and procedures that are fair, constructive and clear and there should be constructive communication to address issues as quickly as possible.  We can help you to check if your policies and procedures are in line with best practice.

However, where relationships have been damaged by events in the workplace, the Labour Relations Agency can provide impartial and confidential mediation, conciliation or arbitration support to help resolve the situation.

Many of us spend a significant proportion of our time with colleagues, so productive and positive working relationships are very important, not just for job satisfaction, but for general wellbeing.  

When problems arise in the workplace they have the potential to derail relationships and cause lasting damage if they are not managed effectively.

Having clear and easily accessible policies around conduct and performance management, as well as consistently following the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, will all help to keep working relationships intact.   

Where employers or employees feel that a relationship has broken down and some support could be useful to help get things back on track, they can contact the Labour Relations Agency’s Mediation team on 03300 552 220.  There is no charge for using our services.

Prevention is better than cure

Simple practices which are regularly and consistently reinforced can really help working relationships thrive and can promote a positive and constructive workplace culture.  A few good tips include:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – the number one issue in many organisations!  Clear and regular communication goes a long way towards eliminating disputes and misunderstandings.  Responsibility for preventing and clearing up confusion or mistakes should be shared by all. There should be regular performance conversations and staff updates about what is going on, especially if there are changes planned or performance issues to manage.
  • Don’t let things snowball – raising a concern when it first comes up makes the task of resolving it much easier than if it were allowed to fester and grow into something bigger.
  • Keep it simple – make sure policies, rules and procedures are easy to understand, well communicated and applied fairly.  Invest time in setting up effective systems and processes for managing performance and investigating employee complaints.
  • Know your rights and responsibilities – everyone should keep themselves well informed about both their rights and their responsibilities.  
  • Jot it down – when significant conversations happen, both parties should make a note of the date, a few key details and save it somewhere.

Recognise an issue early

In many cases, the right word by the right manager at the right time and in the right way is all that is needed.  This will often be more appealing than a formal meeting when dealing with a situation where rules have been broken or performance isn’t satisfactory.  Extra training, coaching and advice may be needed. Both the manager and employee should be aware that formal processes will start if there is no improvement or if improvement is not maintained.

Last updated: 30 May 2019