It’s highly likely you’ve witnessed some form of workplace conflict throughout the course of your career (hopefully not too much). Conflict at work can become uncomfortable and disruptive if left to fester without being properly addressed. Members of staff at a management level have a duty to resolve conflict affecting their teams in order to protect office culture and ensure productivity is maintained. It’s important to remember that conflict is a fact of life. The workplace, like our private life, is a hotbed of personalities and values, meaning that there will be occasional clashes. As a manager, your employees are your most valuable asset; these conflict resolution tips will help you ensure everyone in your team gets along.
Let’s have a look at the kind of things that actually generate conflict. A CIPD study (2015) found that the single most common contributor to conflict is differences in personality or styles of working. The study states that nearly 40% of UK employees have experienced some form of conflict in their career and that conflict can arise because of individual differences, differing terms of employment, differing levels of competence and differing levels of support/resources to name a few. It is also possible that conflict can be born from personal issues, unrelated to the working environment but affect individuals on such a level that it causes upset (examples can include recent grievances or health issues).
- Don’t be scared of conflict, it’s part of your job
Address each grievance as soon as possible and don’t wait for the issue to fix itself (because it may not!). It’s important to be proactive in ensuring your team is cooperating. If members of your team have a prolonged disagreement it may cause disruption between their duties and the effects may extend beyond the two individuals. Get to the root of the problem. Is it personal or organisational? Is it something you can remedy or does the dispute need to be taken to higher management?
- Consider the nature of the conflict
Is this the first time there has been a dispute about, for instance, levels of support given to different teams? Sometimes these small fires are useful in revealing the source of the flame. Be intuitive to the needs of your team. Your colleagues may not feel comfortable bringing these larger issues to your attention, but workplace conflict may reveal a chink in the armour of your operation.
- Make friends with Human Resources
Not only will Human Resources professionals be adept at dealing with workplace conflict, they are also an objective third party. If you are unsure as to where the compromise lies in a conflict situation, they may be able to provide valuable insight. This also helps raise the confidence of the parties involved by ensuring them you have referenced the appropriate department in response to their conflict.
None of this is easy, and because of the sheer amount of possible conflicts that can occur based on variables like profession, environment and personal circumstance, workplace conflict is extremely unpredictable. Your response structure to conflicts, however, can be clearly defined. Responding to issues quickly and pragmatically is the best way forward.
The blog above was created using insights from our online BA Management and Leadership degree, as well as various online sources cited above. If you are interested in learning more about our online BA Management and Leadership or BA Management and Professional Accounting degree, you can fill out our online enquiry form or call us on 08081 789 636 (charges apply for international calls).