Leaders have a lot on their plates, and conflict amongst employees or protests of leadership can make for additional and often unexpected stress. Studying workplace conflict examples and their resolutions can be a helpful way to ramp up your conflict management skills, as you can learn by example ways to implement creative strategies.

3 Workplace Conflict Examples: What to Look Out For

In these workplace conflict examples, you’ll notice 3 different styles of conflict that can unfold at work: leadership, work style, and cultural. At a high level, most work-related disputes fall under one of these categories and can utilize similar techniques for resolve.

1. Leadership Conflict

When a team is led by a micromanager, things can heat up pretty quickly. A boss who gets overly involved with the minutiae of employees’ workload may think he’s doing the right and proactive thing, but he’s likely just causing undue stress to the employees while simultaneously offering messages of distrust. Managers who aren’t discrete or appropriate when calling out the mistakes of their employees may also face some resistance from their team for creating a hostile work environment.

Not many people are interested in handling conflict at work, which is why it’s a necessary leadership skill and one that will get you ahead in your career. If you’re a manager who sees the employees of another manager organizing a revolt, you might want to get involved. Helping the leader out with objective observations and suggestions for improvements may not always go over well, but it’s better to get creative than have to go straight to human resources. Listen and validate the feelings of everyone involved in an effort to de-escalate the situation and allow for space for problem-solving.

2. Work Style Conflicts

Two employees who are working together on the same high-stress project may have very different work styles, which creates even more stress. One may be proficient but wait until the very last minute, while the other may want to stay ahead of their tasks and address them little by little each day. These employees are relying on each other for certain tasks to be completed, but they’re working at remarkably different paces. This is one of those workplace conflict examples that most people have experienced and can hopefully, with experience, see coming from a mile away.

Acting quickly is important here for the manager or mediator. Guiding these two employees on a discovery where they can recognize how much they’re depending on each other can help make them see that their behavior heavily impacts the other. Some employees perhaps shouldn’t be teamed up with each other at all, especially if you have a diverse team where someone else may be a better fit.

3. Cultural Conflicts

Examples of conflict in the workplace scenarios can get tricky when you remember that your employees are human beings with personal lives, beliefs, opinions, and needs. In modern times, political conversations are happening far and wide. But what happens when you have two employees who go head-to-head on their stances? While most workplaces have restrictions on the types of conversations that can unfold regarding politics, sometimes the messages can start to appear more passively from colleague to colleague.

Having clear rules about these boundaries before conflict erupts is a great way for a leader to get ahead on handling conflict at work. Holding employees accountable for following those rules is important; otherwise, the rules stop mattering altogether. Have each employee air their grievances before they state their commitment to following the boundaries established by HR.

If you need help improving your interpersonal or leadership skills, Pollack Peacebuilding Systems can help. Working with individuals, groups, and partners, we collective reach solutions which lead to positive, long-lasting change. Contact us today for help with your workplace conflict.

workplace conflict examples