Staff Tension: Some Guidelines

Alright.  Staff tension happens.

We don’t always agree with each other, and sometimes we show it.  Especially during the stressful times, we can have a lot of difficulty working well with certain people.  This is a natural part of being one person in a group of other people; we think differently and work differently, and sometimes that is just hard.

But if we aren’t careful, tensions can rise unexpectedly.  They can also simmer below the surface, never really leaving.  Here are a few helpful guidelines to help minimize the tension in your staff, or at least limit the negative effects it has on your campsite.

Keep it private.

As a staff member, few things are more detrimental to morale than hearing upper-level staff quarrel.  It makes you question their capabilities, their love for their job, and (depending on how frequently it happens) can make you look for another job.  Even worse are the subtle jibes people sometimes make with other staff behind each other’s backs.  A staff member saying “I don’t get it, but that’s what she wants, so we’ll deal…” or someone saying “yeah, I know it’s stupid…but he said…” is often more poisonous to your team than a straight-out yelling match.

Showing a united, supportive front will give confidence to the rest of the staff.  And even staff members you have conflict with will appreciate the effort.  Agree to keep conflict behind closed doors, and to not say anything about each other you wouldn’t want to say to their faces.

Choose your battles.

There are hundreds of decisions made on a campsite every day.  And there will likely be at least a couple we won’t all agree on.  But it is important to carefully choose which actions/decisions you will focus on.  If, for example, two staff members disagree on what the family camp menu should be, tensions can rise.  If both staff members refuse to back down, or one does but is bitter about the situation, staff tension will be very high.  If, however, staff members decide that the menu is not a battle that is REALLY important to them, tension will be much lower.  Same disagreement, different emotional result.

Talk to each other.

A large percentage of staff tension is created by issues that are simply never resolved, often because they are not fully discussed.  Two staff members might have a tense relationship because one feels the other doesn’t have confidence in their work ability, but doesn’t voice this feeling.  The other staff member is stuck with a tense relationship with no obvious way to work towards harmony.  A simple conversation (maybe several) could resolve this conflict.  It can be particularly helpful to campsites to require staff members to have frequent one-on-one conversations with each other about potential issues, if only so that future conversations can happen more easily when real issues arise.

Related Articles:

Productivity: Stress

Staff Woes: When to Let Go

Staff Woes: Avoiding the Issue

Staff Woes: Conflicting Styles

Promoting Employee Morale


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