Educating yourself in conflict resolution is essential to a healthy work environment, whether you oversee an office, warehouse, nonprofit, or any other place that employs multiple people. To help you move forward with your education, review the following real life examples of conflict in the workplace. It gives you that “real feel” necessary to putting conflict resolution tools into practice.
It is not uncommon for two or more workers to disagree over how to complete a task. For example, say two employees are tasked with taking inventory of old merchandise in the back room. The first employee wants to category the inventory alphabetically, while the second employee feels categorizing items by item type is the best method. A disagreement ensues that interferes with productivity and delays the inventory project.
To help employees move past these and other task disagreements, have them take a few proverbial steps back. The ability to look at a situation from a (relatively) objective perspective gives everyone the chance to breathe, check their egos, and compromise. They might agree to try one method this time and another the next time they are assigned work together, or come up with a third way of completing the task efficiently.
Conflict often occurs when there is miscommunication about a shared project that resulted in one or more errors. No one wants to “look bad in front of the boss,” which can result in tension and resentment. For example, say a team member wrote an email about wanting a meeting about the project, but never followed up with a date or time. The other employees involved in the project skipped the meeting, because they never received any information about it. The team member who wrote the initial email gets mad because no one bothered to follow up or through, even though he or she sent the initial message.
Miscommunication issues require team members to examine their current communication skills to identify what needs improvement. They might realize that they always send vague emails, or that it is their responsibility to follow up if they send the first messages. Conflict resolution seminars that focus on clear, healthy workplace communication can also be necessary to avoiding future problems. As communication among your team improves, so will productivity, because there will be fewer questions and project or assignment delays.
Having several distinct personalities in one workplace setting can easily result in conflicts. Some workers might feel that their fellow employees are abrasive, tactless, and offensive, or use words such as “mousey,” “wimpy,” or “annoyingly quiet” to characterize team members during off-hours. Perhaps some employees do not enjoy their coworkers discussing politics during lunch or how loud they are.
As off-putting as some personality traits are, it is important for everyone in the workplace to remember they are in a professional setting. Working together does not have to mean liking each other or spending one minute of time together during non-work hours. What it does mean is being civil and courteous, and putting personal feelings to the side. Everyone needs to put their feelings about their coworkers on hold when they enter the office or other work setting, and maintain a professional attitude all day long. By doing so, they might realize that some coworkers “are not so bad” or are easier to work with than they thought, which promotes workplace harmony.
These are just some real life examples of conflict in the workplace! To help you move forward with your conflict resolution education, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today.