Relationship conflict in the workplace is nothing new, but should always be managed rather than ignored. Trying to sweep the conflict under the proverbial rug is a quick path to workplace tension and discord, which begets more problems such as high turnover rates and company reputation issues. To help continue your education regarding workplace conflict and management, review the following examples of relationship conflicts in work environments.

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Employee and Employee

Issues between employees can occur for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Perhaps one team member takes issue with how the other communicates via email and is getting increasingly fed up. Maybe an employee finds their coworker to be brash, if not obnoxious, and has taken a strong dislike to them. Other common issues between team members are political or religious in nature, such as one team member trying to impose their rhetoric on another.

Manager and Employee

Conflict between managers and employees contribute to workplace tension and stress. Among the most common reasons for such conflicts are managerial styles, as the employee might feel the manager’s style is too harsh or designed to promote fear. The managerial style could also be too lax for the employee, resulting in complaints, or involve excessive micro-managing. Other manager-employee reasons for relationship conflict in the workplace include problems over the employee’s level of productivity or perceived level of activity. For example, say the employee routinely works 10am to 6pm instead of 9am to 5pm. The employee always gets their work done on time and produces quality materials, but the manager has a problem with them coming in at 10.

These and other conflicts do more than create tension, as they can raise leadership and employee productivity questions. An employee who feels negatively about a manager might complain to their coworkers during off hours, breeding more unpleasantness towards the team leader. Conversely, a manager who has an issue with an employee might develop a poor attitude about the person that affects their confidence, despite the individual maintaining a high level of quality work.

Manager and Manager

Sometimes the relationship conflict in the workplace is between two supervisors, such as those with differing managerial styles. One team leader might give their employees more flexibility, but still expects the same level of work as another manager who remains strict about work times and other office rules. Employees can take sides as a result, causing conflict and tension. Additional examples of conflicts between managers include different opinions over the office layout, work hours, working from home options, hiring processes, training modules, and termination procedures.

Issues can additionally arise because of personal conflicts. For example, perhaps the managers had a friendship outside of the workplace that took a negative turn, resulting in workplace tension.

Resolving Relationship Conflict in the Workplace

Regardless of who the conflict involves, resolving it in a peaceful manner is essential to workplace harmony.

Say the issue between the two employees is personal, making it important to remind both parties that such problems have no place in a professional environment. Everyone must be able to get along well enough to work together, no matter how much they may personally dislike various individuals. If the issue relates to specific projects, assignments, or team member work ethic in general, finding teamwork-based solutions becomes the priority. For example, perhaps both parties agree to be more aware of their inboxes and respond in timelier fashions.

If attempts to mitigate the issue with help from managers or the HR department does not solve the problem, professional mediation is best. It allows an objective specialist in conflict resolution to come in, hear both sides, and provide tools and resources for moving past the issue without further tension.

For more about conflict resolution, please contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today!

Kent McGroarty

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