A scheduling conflict can prompt annoyance or level-headed action depending on how you view it. Read on to learn how to identify and handle a scheduling conflict.
What are scheduling conflicts?
Everyone has experienced a scheduling conflict in their personal life. By mistake, you might have booked a vacation on the same weekend as a family reunion. Or, a friend might have asked you to catch a movie at the same time as your dental appointment.
A scheduling conflict in business is similar. It refers to a scenario in which two events vie for the same time slot on your calendar. The events in question might call for the attendance of you, the employer. For example, your employee may have a new conflict arise from being sick or from a new family event they want to attend. That may cause them to no longer be able to make the shift they were assigned. They may also have changing availability, like if they are a part-time worker who is also a student and their class times change, which can create ongoing conflicts.
No matter how the conflict manifests, it’s clear that one person can’t be in two places at once. The only way to release the clutch that a scheduling conflict has on one’s calendar is to resolve it.
What types of scheduling conflicts can occur?
Common types of scheduling conflict include:
- Double-booking. This happens when you schedule two events in the same time slot. For example, you might have reassigned the shift of one employee to an employee who has a shift at the same time. It often leads to the failure to fulfill one or the other commitment.
- Overlapping events. This happens when you schedule an event in a way that it overlaps with another already on the calendar. For example, you might have scheduled an inspection or store walk from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and a team standup from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. This scheduling conflict forces a person to duck out of one event to attend another. But they are unable to give their undivided attention to either.
- Booking an unavailable time slot. This happens when you schedule an event at a time slot that is already blocked out. For example, you might by mistake assign a shift to an employee during his afternoon off. The employee would have to miss the shift or cancel his vacation.
Tips for handling scheduling conflicts
Below are some tips for preventing and handling scheduling conflicts:
- Make an employee schedule. A master schedule that sets forth how employees divide their time keeps conflicts at bay. Employee scheduling apps like Shifts in Microsoft Teams can help alert you to potential conflicts.
- Budget for breaks. Be sure to factor in breaks when making an employee schedule. Scheduling in back-to-back shifts may not result in a scheduling conflict. But the drain on his energy can prevent an employee from working at his peak capacity.
- Name backups. For each shift assignment, name a backup employee who can step in if a conflict arises. This can prevent a scenario in which no staff member is available for a shift.
- Adopt an understanding attitude. Don’t attempt to pass blame if a scheduling conflict occurs that leads to an unfilled shift. This is all the more relevant when an employee is not to blame for a no-show. Strive to understand what caused the confusion and what you can do to avoid it in the future.
- Give workers the ability to propose an alternate time. A scheduling conflict that employees can sort out themselves saves you as the manager time and energy, ensuring all shifts are covered. Giving employees the ability to easily swap or offer shifts that no longer work for their schedules, while still keeping approval processes in place, takes the pressure of you and your employees. Enabling workers to set their availability and request time off for vacation and sick time further helps your team’s shift schedule avoid future conflicts.