Common Workplace Conflict Scenarios (And How You Can Avoid Them) | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

December 4, 2020by Vanessa Rose

Anytime a group of people get together, conflict can arise. Add to it the day-to-day stress of a busy work life and compounding personal issues and you might have yourself a dispute waiting to happen. By exploring some common workplace conflict scenarios managers can get ahead of them rather than be stuck reacting to something unpleasant.

Common Workplace Conflict Scenarios

By observing the power of these conflict-ready dynamics, steps can be put in place to avoid the eventual escalation. How do these relationships fair in your organization? When was the last time you assessed them? Getting clearer about these dynamics now can make conflict easier to manage later. Here are 3 common workplace conflict scenarios to keep an eye on.

1. Conflict with Leadership

Conflict can happen at a leadership level, be it among fellow managers or between manager and employee. Let’s say two leaders who run cooperating teams take different leadership approaches to their management which starts to impact the other team. If the two managers can’t figure out how to manage their conflict, everyone involved will feel the impact. Another example of conflict at this level is if employees have negative reactions to a manager’s leadership style and don’t know how to effectively express or report the issues they’re having. Likewise, a manager that’s receiving insubordinate behavior from an employee that doesn’t meet requirements for disciplinary action. In all of these instances, stress from the interpersonal struggle mixed with feelings of low-agency to correct the struggle can escalate into conflict.
Resolving conflict between employees and managers without HR involvement is important, especially because one party is assumed to have the leadership skills to be able to navigate the interpersonal issue without formal intervention. However, if employees or managers feel as though they can’t resolve the issue without bias or fear of retaliation, getting conflict support from professionals or escalating to HR may be the best next steps.

2. Conflict Over Work Style

Employees have to work together which sometimes means they rely on the quality and promptness of their colleagues’ work. But if you’ve ever worked on any kind of team, you know that people tend to have their own unique work styles. When the pressure is on, a customer is waiting, or a deadline approaches, the stress of this situation can turn different work styles into conflict kindling.
While this may be a common workplace conflict scenario, working in a silo isn’t ideal. This means encouraging effective teamwork can have big impacts on the organization’s future. But it can be important for leadership to step in early if they’re noticing that differing work styles are creating tension. Allowing each party to contribute their ideas as a form of compromise is one of the more effective ways to maintain their buy-in to the work while also putting things into perspective. This type of conflict, if handled effectively, can create the kind of mindset change and teambuilding that can turn it into constructive conflict in the workplace.

3. Conflict Around Cultural Differences

If race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, cultural backgrounds, or political ideals become an issue between colleagues, regardless of their level, leadership will want to get ahold of the situation quickly. Fostering a company culture in which no one feels discriminated against or harassed because of their uniqueness is imperative to creating a safe work space that is free from problems that could create costly issues for the company.
No one should have to feel unsafe in their workplace, so if you’re wondering how to deal with staff conflict around cultural differences, consider training employees on diversity and establishing an effective reporting system for issues can help decrease instances of conflict around these areas. Benefits of diversity training far outweigh avoiding problems at the office. Addressing diversity and inclusion issues can create numerous benefits for your company.

By identifying common workplace conflict scenarios, you can stay ahead of the expected issues one may face in a workplace. Don’t go it alone. Get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension at work. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Vanessa Rose

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