Conflict in the workplace can have a negative effect on the day-to-day working of your business, or result in a large scale strike or other employment dispute. It can also affect the general health and wellbeing of your employees. Here are a few ideas illustrating how you can manage relationships in your business and minimize conflict between individuals, teams, and larger groups of employees.
1. Signs of conflict
Conflict can arise at work for a number of reasons. For instance, two employees may have a personality clash, an employee may have a grievance against their manager, or a manager feels an employee is underperforming
Conflict can have a negative impact on your employees and this may be demonstrated by:
· a lack of motivation - fewer people volunteer to take on new tasks or providing input at team meetings
· unpleasant behaviour - people start to make derogatory remarks towards each other and there are fewer social events organized
· falling productivity - people are not cooperating with each other
· increased sick leave and absence of staff
By spotting signs of conflict early, you have a better chance of: identifying causes, resolving the conflict.
2. Causes of conflict
Every employee has needs and certain expectations at work, and conflict could arise when people feel that these are not being met or are being ignored.
Conflict could be the result of:
· poor management communication
· unfair treatment
· unclear job roles
· inadequate training
· poor work environment
· lack of equal opportunities
· bullying and harassment
3. Preventing conflict
To minimize and prevent conflict in the workplace, you should try to learn as much as you can about why conflicts occur and develop processes to address them. Common action points that employers should consider are:
· developing a strategy for managing conflict with managers, employees and your representatives
· having sound policies and procedures in place
· explaining plans for change and making employees feel involved
· listening to and consulting with employees on decision-making
· rewarding fairly with pay or bonus schemes
· ensuring work safety
· ensuring that managers are properly trained
4. Managing conflict
When a conflict arises you should try to take a calm approach and not react in a challenging way. You should also not ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.The best way to handle conflict is to face it and have a planned approach. If you have policies or procedures in place, you can use these to determine how you approach the issue or to give your employee an idea of how you will approach addressing the problem. It may help to have an employee representative and/or a senior manager available who can help when employees find it difficult to confront their managers or when you are not able to speak to each employee individually.