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Conflict at work

Premier Advocates > Conflict at work

Conflict at work

There are many different forms of conflict.  It may be that an employee has a grievance against their line manager; there is an issue between two or more employees.  A conflict can unfortunately get in the way of work making everyone concerned uncomfortable lack of trust with managers and less cooperation in turn means the business becomes less unproductive.

It is best that a conflict is dealt with as early as possible to reduce the chance of it developing into a major conflict.  It can save time, money and stress down the line for both the employee and the employer.

Signs of conflict

There are some signs that are obvious such as an intense conversation between colleagues or a meeting between employees’ representative and management that could turns into a stand-off.

However there are many types of conflict that are not that obvious, this is because some individuals choose to hide their feelings finding a way to cope with an issue, whereas another individual cut themselves away from the rest of the company and the team.

Symptoms of conflict

Responses to staff attitude questionnaires – this is a great way of finding out if there is any underlying reason for dissatisfaction.

Behaviour Changes– Employees will attend fewer social events and can lead to employees making derogatory remarks towards each other

MotivationDrops– Fewer employees will be willing to take on new projects and there would be very little input from employees in team meetings

Productivity Declines– There are likely to be a higher number of queries and complaints when people are not cooperating

Sickness absence will Increase– Unhappiness in the workforce can lead to depressions and increase in stress levels

When should help be sourced from outside?

Help from outside is beneficial in either the formal or informa stages of a conflict and help can be available in a range of options including mediation.  Mediation is the most common form of dispute resolution.  It will involve the use of an independent person who is impartial and is there to help the two sides reach a resolution.

Causes of conflict

  • Bullying and harassment
  • An old problem that still remains unresolved
  • Lack of job opportunities and inadequate training provided
  • Being treated unfairly
  • Communication very poor
  • Management – Training issues dealing with employees properly
  • An increase in workload with no clear instructions

Managing conflict

  • Train management on how to handle a difficult conversation
  • Try to investigate the conflict informally
  • Consider help from outside the organisation this can be included in the terms and conditions  in your contract
  • Have clear internal procedures in place to deal with grievances
  • Include mediation in contracts of employment
  • Listen to people and their views
  • Have a focus towards interests and not positions or personalities

What is the first stage of managing conflict?

It is always best to speak to people directly to try and resolve any issues that you have, trying to keep the issue in the informal stage rather than it getting to the formal stage.  Give people the time and space to express their feelings this can often help the situation

What are the usual responses to a conflict?

Fight – This can include defending yourself by shouting and losing your temper

Flight – This involves turning your back on a situation, often the most common reaction in the hope that if you ignore the problem it will go away

Freeze – This is when you might be dealing with an issue that drifts on and then becomes very drawn out because no one had made a decision

Face – Approach the issue calmly with a planned approach