Put a group of different personalities in the same room for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, add the stress of multiple deadlines, and you've got a recipe for conflict. No matter how well intentioned and intellectually compatible the group of people you've hired may be, inevitably you're going to have squabbles over who jammed up the copier or accidentally deleted a co-worker's file.
Most minor issues will blow over on their own, but a few can turn into major disputes. Some office arguments can be serious enough to prompt legal action.
To prevent small conflicts from exploding into major crises, nip issues in the bud right away. Let employees know from the start that your door is always open. Encourage them to come to you by creating a safe environment in which they feel comfortable honestly and openly voicing their frustrations. All conversations held in your office should remain completely confidential.
When you respond to conflicts, do so with an open mind and a nonjudgmental approach. That means absolutely no personal attacks. By asking questions and really listening to the responses so you understand how each person in the dispute feels, you can help the two parties reach a resolution that's acceptable to everyone. Finally, if company policies are to blame for the issues, go to management and suggest some permanent policy changes.