When people with diverse backgrounds and priorities work together in a company, conflict can arise. Insults, noncooperation, bullying, and fury conflict in the workplace are all examples of how conflict can be expressed. Personality clashes misunderstood communication, and organizational mismanagement is all possible causes. Workplace conflict can lead to interruptions in work, lower productivity, project failure, absenteeism, turnover, and termination. Workplace conflict can be both a cause and a result of emotional conflict in workplace stress.
According to a survey administered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, four out of every ten UK employees experienced some conflict in the workplace sort of interpersonal conflict at work in the previous year. The majority of this dispute occurs between an individual and his or her immediate supervisor. Employees are also conflicted in the workplace more likely to report having had a confrontation with a higher-ranking colleague, according to the survey.
Conflict in the Workplace
When personnel from differing backgrounds and work styles are brought together for a common business goal, workplace conflict is unavoidable. Conflict can be conflict in the workplace controlled and handled, and it should be. The likelihood of workplace conflict has increased, with tensions and concerns at an all-time high as a result of the conflict in the workplace, modern political division, and racial injustice conversations at work. This toolbox views the origins and repercussions of workplace conflict, as well as why managers should intervene.
In most circumstances, the employees who are at odds with one another should take the first moves in dealing with workplace conflict. The employer’s role, which is played by managers and HR professionals, is crucial, and it is based on the conflict in the workplace on the creation of a workplace culture that is meant to minimize employee conflict to the greatest extent feasible. Strong employee relations, particularly fairness, trust, and mutual respect at all levels, are the foundation for such a culture. This toolbox provides strategies for conflict in the workplace for dealing with employee grievances and disagreements, as well as tips for creating such an organizational climate.
According to experts, there are various reasons for workplace conflict, including:
- Differences in personality.
- Some coworkers find certain workplace activities bothersome.
- Workplace needs that aren’t being satisfied.
- Inequities in resources that are perceived to exist.
- Roles in the workplace that are unclear.
- Competing work responsibilities or poor job description execution, such as putting a nonsupervisory individual in the unofficial position of “supervising” another employee.
- A systemic event such as a labor shortage, a merger or acquisition, or a force reduction.
- Organizational transformation and transition are mismanaged.
- Misunderstood remarks and words were taken out of context are examples of poor communication.
- Age, sex, or upbringing variances in work practices or goals, as well as variances in perspectives.
Employers can manage workplace conflict by fostering an organizational culture that aims to avoid conflict as much as possible, as well as conflict in the workplace dealing with conflict that cannot be resolved among employees in a timely and equitable manner. Employers should think about the following while dealing with conflict:
- Ensure that policies and communications are clear and consistent and that decision-making processes are transparent.
- Make sure that everyone, not just managers, is responsible for resolving conflicts.
- Don’t overlook confrontation, and don’t put off taking measures to avoid it.
- Attempt to comprehend the underlying emotions of the employees who are at odds.
- Keep in mind that conflict resolution approaches may vary depending on the circumstances of the issue.
How to Deal with Conflict in the Workplace
It’s critical to take disagreement within your team seriously and act swiftly once you become aware of it. Knowing that any disagreements would be discovered and dealt with as soon as possible frequently motivates team members to avoid or resolve disagreements on their own. When problems arise, the methods below can assist everyone involved in reaching an agreeable conclusion.
Look into any issues that you’re concerned about.
It’s critical to act and assess the issue whenever a problem is brought to your attention. Make sure to look into every concern and don’t make any assumptions. Take the time to collect all of the facts after you’ve examined the scenario. Speak with a variety of people who are involved. Independently observe situations. Examine any paperwork conflict in the workplace that can back up the statements. Your actions should be dictated by the gravity of the circumstance. Assess the accuracy of the claims, their seriousness, and the opinions of different participants before moving forward.
Increased visibility and participation
It’s critical to stay visible throughout the process of resolving the dispute within your team. If you’re discovering conflict concerns after the fact, you might want to explore increasing your presence in the office and engaging with team members on a more regular basis. To develop a sense of teamwork, hold regular meetings and conflict in the workplace embrace good communication. Employees will feel more comfortable approaching conflict problems directly if CEOs, managers, and HR are a frequent part of your team’s day.
Recognize the advantages of employee conflict and embrace it.
Constructive workplace conflict can strengthen your team’s camaraderie and help them grow as persons and employees. You’re giving your team the ability to guide their own subordinates through conflict in the future by leading them through conflict in the workplace a peaceful conflict resolution procedure. Conflict situations can also help to bring to light misunderstandings or a lack of clarity in corporate policies and processes, which may then be used to improve future operations. You’ll be more likely to stay cool and strive toward a peaceful settlement if you embrace the good aspects of disagreement for your team.
Workplace conflict can be resolved with intervention and resources.
It’s critical to elevate issues that demand a legal and/or management reaction and follow the company’s stated procedures in collaboration with HR and legal counsel. Consider offering resources to aid when difficulties arise that are essential but not life-threatening. If your organization has an employee support program, encourage employees to use it. Consider having a session mediated by an experienced member of HR if there is tension within a team that may be resolved with a level-headed dialogue. Concentrate on offering support and solutions that will aid in the creation of a positive professional atmosphere and allow everyone to return to their work.
Face-to-face conflict is the best way to resolve it.
When concerns are raised behind the scenes, consider the ramifications on a bigger scale. For example, if security or safety issues have been raised, it may indicate the requirement for refresher education for your whole team or department. If slacker complaints, employee discontent, or gossip contribute to a hostile work environment, hold a staff meeting to explain what you’ve noticed and have a clear discussion about workplace expectations.
When it comes to resolving disputes, you might not want to rely on emails to get the job done. Meeting face-to-face with the parties involved is frequently the shortest and most efficient strategy.
The application of a few commonsense ideas can help with resolution. Take into account the following:
- Invite all members of your team to a meeting in a neutral, distraction-free environment.
- Allow time for team members to prepare for the meeting.
- Allow everyone an equivalent amount of chance to speak during the meeting.
- Without passing judgment, listen carefully and respectfully to what others have to say. Recognize the importance of each person’s input. Before they can begin rationally reevaluating an unfavorable circumstance, people like to be heard.
- Allowing the talk to go off on a tangent is not a good idea. Also, keep an eye out for anything that could be regarded as unduly personal or even hurtful on purpose. This type of feedback should be discouraged right away.
- Maintain your objectivity during the conversation. Having your own opinions in the early stages of a meeting will only muddle the process. And by speaking in a level-headed manner, you’ll encourage others to do the same.
- Look for areas of agreement. Propose minor concessions that different sides may not have considered. Small shifts in position can often lead to major concessions.
Remind employees of the expectations for dealing with employee conflict.
When concerns are raised behind the scenes, consider the ramifications on a bigger scale. For example, if security or safety issues have been raised, it may indicate the requirement for refresher training for your entire team or business. If slacker complaints, employee discontent, or gossip contribute to a hostile work environment, hold a staff meeting to explain what you’ve noticed and have a clear discussion about workplace expectations.
Some company leaders may believe that workplace disputes can be beneficial. Conflict among team members can help spark new ideas, find new solutions to old problems, and build a sense of teamwork. However, not all workplace conflict is constructive, and there are strong reasons to recognize and understand how to settle workplace conflict before it causes negativity among your team and becomes unproductive.
Employees in any business are certain to cross paths from time to time; if left unchecked, this can result in a dysfunctional, hostile work atmosphere, dramatic drops in team productivity, periods of absenteeism, rising staff turnover, and poor customer service. These disadvantages might easily outweigh the benefits of allowing workplace disputes to resolve on their own. As a business owner, you should take proactive actions to monitor and manage this employee dynamic.
The role of Human Resource
The human resource company is at the cost of developing and implementing workplace conflict policies and procedures, as well as developing and managing conflict-resolution initiatives. HR also begins conflict dialogue among employees and keeps track of the metrics and expenditures associated with conflict resolution activities. Many HR professionals get conflict-resolution training as part of their professional development, and many are also used to giving such training or soliciting the help of outside resources for supervisors and managers.
HR specialists are frequently involved in resolving workplace issues, especially when employees and their managers are unable to reach an agreement. If HR is unable to mediate a problem, an outside professional may be required to reach a resolution. See Viewpoint: The Art and Science of Conflict Resolution for further information. However, in many cases, HR does not become aware of workplace dispute until it has worsened. Managers should operate as HR’s “warning system,” alerting HR professionals to workplace difficulties before they escalate into greater issues. Certain sorts of workplace disagreements, such as those involving harassment, discrimination, unlawful acts, or other issues that could result in lawsuits or law enforcement intervention, must always be reported to HR.
The role of Employees
Although supervisors and managers bear a significant amount of responsibility for resolving workplace conflicts, numerous experts believe that employees should take the first moves in resolving differences.
According to Kelly Mollica, a consultant with the Centre Group, a human asset management organization in Memphis, Tenn., employees who have complaints about coworkers should try to resolve their disputes directly with those coworkers before asking a supervisor or manager to intervene. According to her, this method may not only help managers reduce disruptions, but it may also help employees improve their own conflict-resolution abilities. According to Mollica, resolving workplace issues does not necessitate top-down intervention. It’s possible that a manager who approaches one employee with another’s grievances is perceived as taking sides. If this occurs frequently, it may be seen as favoritism toward select staff, eroding the manager’s authority. Employees should also not be unduly reliant on their bosses. People who can handle day-to-day challenges on their own, think independently, assess problems, come up with solutions, and put them into action are needed in organizations. This encompasses both task- and people-related issues.
Conflict Management Training
Some managers and HR professionals are turning to conflict management training to reduce or prevent the impact of conflict. This type of training can take many different forms and cover a wide range of topics. One-day workshops, small-group facilitation, and one-on-one sessions can all be used to provide it. HR professionals should choose a strategy based on the type of workplace conflict they’re dealing with.
Experts think conflict management training can help employees who are passive-aggressive and passionately angry—those who are always in conflict, often facing disciplinary action and causing complaints from coworkers. Employees who are enraged may use inappropriate language in meetings and send caustic emails. If they are managers, their employees’ absence and turnover rates may be extremely high.
However, if an employee’s behavior causes or threatens to cause harm to others, they may require more assistance than training can provide. Employers should refer to their workplace violence prevention program for security preventive and intervention techniques if an employee displays indicators of passionate anger, such as smashing chairs or banging fists. There should be procedures in place for recognizing, investigating, managing, and responding to threatening behavior or violent incidents in the workplace.
All of the organization’s dispute resolution mechanisms should be well-understood by supervisors and managers. They should be able to describe each system’s reasoning and how it operates in practice. The culture of the organization and the various types of media available and most successful within the workforce will influence an HR professional’s decision on how to convey the details of a dispute-resolution mechanism to employees. Training, staff meetings, policy and procedure manuals, the organization’s intranet, email, newsletters, flyers, new-employee orientation training materials, and individual letters to employees are examples of such media. HR should remind managers and supervisors on a regular basis about the importance of resolving conflicts early and the methods available to them to do so.