The Most Common Causes of Conflict at Work and How to Resolve It

October 29, 2021by Vanessa Rose0

When examining the role of conflict at work and how to resolve it, if you run a team or your own business and you’re new to the people-side of the job, one important muscle of human leadership worth strengthening is that of conflict resolution. While conflict won’t impact your business exactly the same as another business, there are a lot of common factors that create conflict and that are created from conflict, and standardizing some basic skills may make you more adaptable when the going gets tough. One way to familiarize yourself with the basics of conflict resolution may be to explore the most common causes of conflict at work and how to resolve it.

Common Reasons for Conflict at Work and How to Resolve It

Conflict in a high stress environment with varying personalities, needs, desires, and goals is inevitable. When people are tasked with reaching a certain outcome together, they may uncover some differences that are hard to ignore. Having a basic understanding of conflict resolution skills can help make conflict something easier to address, so getting familiar with common causes of conflict at work and how to resolve it is one place to start. Here are a few to begin with:

Poor Leadership

Organizational conflict can sometimes simply start at the top. Employees who experience disrespect, harassment, discrimination, poor communication, unexplained consequences, or who can’t effectively provide feedback to upper management are more likely to hold stress and anger that will impact job performance, engagement, and morale which can lead to conflict. Some things employees expect from leadership that will lower the risks of conflict include:

  • Respectful and clear communication within the organization
  • Safe, non-discriminatory workplace free of harassment
  • Clear and reasonable job expectations
  • Resources and compensation to meet job expectations
  • Communication around expectations and consequences if not met
  • Open feedback loop between managers and employees
  • Appreciation and compensation when job expectations exceeded
  • A company culture that respects their contributions to the team

Poor Communication

Poor communication in any group of people can lead to conflict as things can be misunderstood, taken personally when not meant that way, or can lead to unmet expectations. It’s important to address misunderstandings as soon as they are detected, before they become larger issues. Unaddressed communication issues can cause employees to avoid each other, gossip about each other, create personal rivalries, and begin to grow resentful, leading to chronic team conflicts in the workplace.

Increase in Workload

Employees are often needing to increase the workload of employees without reflecting that new work in the employees’ paychecks. This seems to be growing more as economic and work force shifts are happening. And yet this is a prime example of conflict kindling because, like the company, employees do not have infinite resources. They are not overflowing with mental, physical, and emotional energy to keep pounding away at the pavement while their compensation remains the same. Resentment, stress, burnout, and anger will rise and an effective employee that was once dependable will soon become irritable, unreliable, and reactive. Find another way to get the job done without stretching your employees beyond their human limits.

How to Resolve Staff Conflict

There are many ways to manage conflict in the workplace, but if you’re experiencing any of the above issues, you should start navigating those issues specifically. Getting to the root of an identifiable problem is always the best place to begin. Conflict shouldn’t make or break your business, so get in early with developing a company culture that is inclusive, equitable, effective in communication, and armed with the tools to manage conflict before it escalates. Brush up or load up on some new communication skills that will make avoiding conflict a cinch and resolving conflict a much more effective pursuit.

If you’re confronting conflict at work and how to resolve it, strengthen your approach with coaching, training, or direct resolution support from the professionals. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Vanessa Rose

Vanessa is a licensed psychotherapist and writer living in Los Angeles. When not on a mission for inner peace and conflict resolution, she enjoys making art, visiting the beach, and taking dog portraits. Always curious about self-improvement and emotional expansion, Vanessa also manages her own website which explores the unconscious and archetypal influences on how we eat, express, and relate.

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