Unless you have zero employees, you’ll find that workplace conflicts are inevitable. And even then, there are potential conflicts with business partners and customers.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner, team leader or HR representative – you’ve probably had to deal with at least one conflict yourself. And this is easier said than done, especially in large teams.
Luckily, all conflicts in the workplace can be resolved, no matter its size and complexity. But it is important to know what kinds of problems you may encounter and how exactly you should deal with them. What follows is a breakdown of the four most disruptive types, along with suggestions on how to handle them.
What kind of workplace conflicts could you have?
There are a lot of people in this world and they all have different opinions, preferences and ways of doing things. So it should come as no surprise that the list of possible workplace conflicts is endless. Still, if you’re a manager, team leader or business owner, it’s good to know what types of issues can drive negative behaviours.
Some of the more common causes of conflict in the workplace are:
- Irritating behaviours,
- Unmet needs,
- Poor communication,
- Perceived discrimination, and
- Systemic circumstances.
These types of conflict wouldn’t be such a problem if they weren’t so pervasive. According to the 2020 study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 26 percent of UK employees say that workplace conflict is a common occurrence. That’s more than a quarter of your team.
And while all types of conflicts are important and shouldn’t be ignored, there are some that are more disruptive than others. Here we’ll be focusing on conflicts related to concrete tasks and those that arise out of personal differences, as well as conflicts with partners and customers. So let’s dive in and offer solutions along the way.
Task-based conflicts and their solutions
There are two types of employees who like to do things their own way and those who are quick to adapt. You’ll find both types in literally every workplace. Unfortunately, this often leads to conflict, at least when there’s a task that requires collaboration.
Of course, you don’t even need clashing personalities for such conflicts to arise. Sometimes the root cause lies in poor communication or the task itself. Maybe the brief was unclear or the expectations set too high.
But when the conflict is caused by differing opinions on how the work should be completed, there are a few things you can do to handle it.
First, you should make sure all your employees have clearly defined roles. Then, you should develop a standard process for all the most important types of tasks your team regularly performs. Lastly, you should introduce an accountability system.
Personality-based conflicts and their solutions
You might think workplace conflicts that arise out of personal differences wouldn’t affect your business. But you’d be wrong. Personal conflicts create tension and make everyone in the workplace less productive.
Of course, there are some types of personal conflicts that are more pervasive and problematic than others. For example, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, 44 percent of US-based HR professionals claim they witnessed an increase in political conflicts in 2020. But regardless of the root cause, it’s better to tackle these types of issues head on.
What’s the best solution for preventing a bad atmosphere due to personal differences? While there are many different conflict resolution strategies, your first task is to find a way to communicate with the people in question.
Once you’ve figured out what the problem is, the next step is to set clear boundaries. Make it simple for everyone involved to know when they’ve crossed a line. Sometimes this is all it takes to resolve the issue, but if it persists, team building exercises make for a great way to bring people together despite all their differences.
Conflicts with partners and their solutions
Just as it’s impossible to avoid conflicts between coworkers, conflicts with business partners are also inevitable. Even if you yourself never make a mistake or fail to meet expectations, there will always be things that are simply out of your control. This could be anything from bad weather delaying a delivery to tech disruptions making your solutions outdated.
So what do you do when you get into a conflict with one of your business partners? Here’s one possible way to go about handling the situation.
Your number one priority, as always, is to get to the root of the problem. Your business partner might be giving you a hard time because of a delayed delivery, but is that really it? Or is the delay in question just the latest in a series of timely communication issues?
The right response will, of course, vary depending on the main issue. But it should definitely involve a session dedicated to revisiting your agreement and offering solutions for a more efficient future collaboration.
In most cases, you’ll be able to use your negotiation skills to find this solution without resorting to outside help. But this won’t always be possible. So when you start feeling you’ve reached a dead end, consider using a mediator to help salvage the relationship.
Not all problems need to result in conflicts
There are also things you can do to avoid conflicts instead of handling them. You can offer your partners a simple training program to sell and market goods or services, such as using a partner training program.
That way, you’ll ensure that everyone associated with the selling of your product or service, from salespeople to installers, is well-prepared to portray it in the way you and the firm want.
Conflicts with customers and their solutions
Strictly speaking, conflicts with customers aren’t workplace conflicts. But they definitely can create tension in the workplace, especially when there’s more than one department involved. For example, the mistakes made by salespeople or marketing departments can cause frustration and even bitterness in customer service representatives.
So how do you make it easier for the people in your company who deal with unhappy customers to resolve conflicts successfully?
First, train your employees to listen attentively and make it clear to the customer that their complaints have been heard. So, make sure your employees come up with solutions with clearly defined steps. Lastly, they should also assure the customer that their case will be used to improve the company’s future performance.
You’d be surprised how quickly the simple act of attentive listening can change the entire tone of the conversation. But if you find the steps outlined above lacking, you can always try external services and resources. After all, there’s a reason many businesses choose to invest in quality customer service training programs.
Department-based conflicts and their solutions
If departments do not share goals or believe that they are inadequately supported by management, they might not get along.
Roughly 75 percent of workers think team collaboration and collaboration are vital, with employees now spending 50% more time engaged in “collaborative” activities. If you want to deal with conflict in your company, look at how your teams collaborate.
Some of the most effective methods to promote coordination and success across departments, according to Carol Kinsey Goman in her Forbes piece, are: Reward collaboration across organisational boundaries. Every team should be transparently informed about.
Encourage corporate networking by establishing a centre objective that everyone may strive towards. Create shared goals that everyone can participate in
Centralising the company’s goals is a crucial step toward reducing tension and conflict between departments. To do so, leaders must devote significant time to comprehending the company’s goals, understanding how those objectives affect teams differently, and conveying expectations.
Discrimination-based conflicts and their solutions
This is when the situation gets more serious, and human resources will be needed to intervene. There’s a real need for corporate openness, acceptance, and understanding if there’s age discrimination or racial prejudice going on. We can all learn to live together in peace.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, by 2020 more than 67,000 discrimination charges will have been filed.
Despite the fact that training and heightened awareness may have helped to reduce complaints in comparison with previous years, thousands of individuals still report feeling persecuted.
Typically, plaintiffs claim discrimination in the following areas: Race, religion, national origin, disability, colour, gender, religious affiliation, age, sexual orientation… the list goes on.
To summarise, if you want to file an employment discrimination complaint against the following reasons (or others), you should do so with the highest level of respect and severity:
First and foremost, taking it seriously demonstrates that you prioritise these concerns. It communicates a message to potential victims that it is acceptable to bring even potentially emotional problems to the attention of management, as well as inappropriate conduct by bad actors.
Second, informing staff that a company culture in which prejudice is not accepted will enable everyone to be more productive by making them feel more at ease. Additionally, handling complaints of discrimination properly can help you avoid possible litigation regarding race-based lawsuits.
When you’re the boss, listen to someone’s story with an open mind – even if it involves a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint – regardless of prior complaints or other circumstances. So that they feel completely at ease telling their tale, treat the staff with respect and care. Request the whole narrative as well as any relevant details, including dates, times,
When you’ve received their complaint, there should be established company procedures in place that include an impartial investigation. The first step is to assure the victim(s) that you are taking adequate measures to address and investigate the harassment. This will assist the employee feel their concerns are taken seriously, as well as encourage other employees to come forward.
If your company is suffering from employment discrimination, you may want to consider educating all of its employees and executives in a professional context. Real instruction on unethical behaviour and procedures can really decrease the incidence of claims, as well as help your staff develop respect for one another in their everyday tasks.
How to get better at conflict management
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can help you become a better manager in dealing with tough workplace situations. Organisational behaviour and theory, is an online MBA program that covers a variety of themes, including conflict management and team building. When becoming a team manager, learning how to handle conflict within teams and organisations is important.
Managers may face conflict on a daily basis. However, it does occur, therefore managers must be prepared to deal with it in the best possible way. Learning how to manage conflicts effectively while studying at an online MBA program with MBA consultants might assist you to learn how to handle them within your team and other departments.
Ineffective resolution of conflict might result in low morale and suspicion within the workplace. Understanding how your employees react to various circumstances is an important way to enhance conflict resolution. Knowing the many personality types that may be involved can assist you in dealing with the problem without exacerbating any underlying issues.
For example, if a non-confrontational individual is involved in the disagreement, you may need to speak with them separately and be particularly kind. That person might also want you to act as a mediator and bring that person’s viewpoint to the other participants in the conflict.
Dealing with conflicts in the workplace can be difficult and has negative implications for productivity and overall business performance.
It’s especially problematic when you or your employees find yourself in conflict with partners and customers or when you find your work is suffering because of personal differences and rigid attitudes. Luckily, all these issues can be resolved if you approach them the right way, especially if you start by listening.
Whether you’re dealing with discrimination, harassment, poor communication, or department tensions, learning conflict-resolution skills is an enormous aspect of successful leadership.
About the Author
Lianna Arakelyan is a content writer and digital marketing expert to the extreme with a knack for social media marketing strategy and implementation. She is extreme in her work with a deep goal of always being updated on online and offline marketing and technology news of the world.