As you announce the name of the individual who will step into a coveted position within your work team, you watch the faces of all of her co-workers and know that, while they may be smiling, for some these smiles are plastered on, masking upset and jealousy. For many, keeping this jealousy at bay is an accomplishable goal. But for some, hearing that a co-worker has received a promotion sparks a flame of anger that will continue to smolder, leading to future conflicts. If you suspect that a conflict within your workplace is the result of a recent promotion, you must handle the conflict effectively to restore the harmony and productivity that use to characterize your workplace.
Focus on collaboration. Often it isn’t just the extra zeros that will be added to the promoted employee’s paycheck that ruffles the feathers of her former co-workers; it is the fact that she will now be able to make important decisions. To reduce the degree to which this appears to be the case, put an increased emphasis on collaboration, having the newly promoted employee act as the team-leader, not the ultimate decision maker. This set up can allow the co-workers to feel as if their opinions are still relevant and reduce the degree to which it appears that they will now be taking order from a use-to-be-contemporary. As workers become more accustom to the employee’s position of power, you can allow her to asset her authority more frequently.
Visibly back the promoted employee. Who gave her authority to make that decision? You did. Be sure your employees know that the newly promoted individual has your full backing when it comes to decision making. When she makes her first few addresses to the employees she now oversees, stand behind her, nodding in agreement. This can send the message to employees who are contemplating crossing her that there is no point in doing so as she is working with your backing. This will potentially lead would-be conflict-inducers to work a bit harder to let it go.
Confront the conflict. If you just ignore it, it will go away, right? Well, probably not. Conflicts that go unchecked generally only escalate. Instead of allowing a promotion-related conflict to continue, pull in the individual who seems to be at the root of the conflict and have a frank discussion with her. First, listen to her. Tell her you have witnessed what appears to be a conflict, outlining specifically what you have seen, and allow her to explain the situation. After giving her the floor, address any valid points that she has made. Next make it clear that you aren’t pleased by the conflict. Tell her what sanctions she could face if she continues to perpetuate the conflict, reducing the likelihood that she does so. Often times, this talking-to will be enough to bring about the desired change.
Follow through with consequences. So you tried talking to her and she is still having a conflict with your new promotee? It is time to throw out some consequences. Show the conflict inducer that you mean business by delivering on the promises you made during your sit down. If you fail to do this, you send the message that she actually has the upper hand, so proceed with care and dispense the consequences you promised her you would.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.