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Small Business Tips

6 Tips for Handling Scheduling Conflicts

Manasa Reddigari

A scheduling conflict can prompt ire 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 his or her 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, you might get a request to lunch with a client at the same time as your meeting with the legal team.  Or, the events might apply to an employee. For example, you might have asked your employee to attend a marketing meeting and deliver a sales pitch at 3 p.m.  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?

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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 one meeting scheduled from 2 to 3 p.m. and another from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. This scheduling conflict forces a person to duck out of one event to attend another. But he is unable to give his 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 Microsoft StaffHub 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 snafu and what you can do to avoid it in the future.
  • Block out your calendar. Block out events on your calendar so that partners, clients or employees know you are busy at that time. The trove of calendar software and apps available today make this process easy.
  • Propose an alternate time. A scheduling conflict that you notice in advance is one that you can still correct. Be prompt to explain your prior commitment and suggest an alternate time to the event host.

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