Some of the issues that can cause conflict between individuals and groups at work include:
Unclear job roles
Poor work environment
Lack of equal opportunities
Bullying and harassment
Managing conflict between individuals often involves:
Having a quiet word
Investigating the problem informally
Using internal procedures – for example, company procedures for dealing with grievances
Upgrading line management skills – particularly around handling difficult conversations
Using a skilled mediator
Managing conflict between groups often involves:
Improving the way you communicate and consult with employees
Forming representative structures within your organisation to tackle problems – for example, working groups or staff councils
Using problem-solving cycles to find joint solutions to workplace problems
Getting outside help
Questions and answers
What is the first step to managing conflict?
In many disputes the informal stage is the first stage as many conflicts can be sorted by simply talking and listening to employees. Giving people the time and space to express their feelings and concerns can often help to clear the air.
When should help from outside the organisation be sought?
Outside help is probably of most benefit between the informal and the formal stages of conflict but there are no hard and fast rules and it partly depends on the kind of help you want. Mediation is the most common form of dispute resolution. It involves an independent, impartial person helping two individuals or groups reach a solution that is acceptable to everyone.
What are the typical responses to conflict?
Fight -you react in a challenging way. At work this may mean shouting or losing your temper.
Flight – you turn your back on what’s going on. This is a common reaction – by ignoring a problem you hope it will go away.
Freeze – you are not sure how to react and become very passive. You might begin to deal with the issue but things drift or become drawn out through indecision.
Face – Approach a problem in a calm and rational way with a planned approach.