Examples of Value Conflict in the Workplace

September 10, 2021by Vanessa Rose

Everyone has personal sets of values from which they make personal and professional decisions. Values differ from person to person, making values an inherent basis from which conflict may emerge. As a leader and as an employee, exploring different examples of value conflict in the workplace can help you strengthen your ability to identify and handle them when they arise.

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Examples of Value Conflict in the Workplace

Individual values ought to be respected unless they objectively create harm for others, which is why getting to understand the importance of personal values and learning how to manage complexity in these cases is important, especially if you run an organization. Here are some examples of value conflict in the workplace and how to respond:

Work/Life Balance

A values conflict may look something like one employee wanting to head out on time to catch their child’s soccer game while another employee expects to stay late to finish a collaborative assignment. These two team members may experience tension as they are working toward the same goal but have differing values that will change their method of reaching that goal.

When navigating how to solve conflicts at work that deals with personal values, it’s important not to expect anyone to just blanketly surrender their values. Instead, in this case, you would want to validate that going to your child’s soccer game is important AND that there can be a middle ground creatively identified to meet the other’s needs as well. This might mean pulling in more resources, using different tools, or finding other times to put in extra work. Either way, make validating each person’s values a priority when resolving misunderstandings.

Ethics

When colleagues team up to work on a project, they may find that they don’t have the same ideas on how to execute their goals. In fact, sometimes colleagues may disagree on the ethical approach necessary to execute a goal. For example, one individual may want to adhere strictly to playing by the book, while a coworker thinks some corners can be cut to get the job done. Conflict can erupt from the pressure and tension of this disagreement, especially if the stakes are high and the fear of consequence is equally high.

Learning how to deal with coworker conflict in these situations includes being: a) respectful of these differences, b) knowledgeable of workplace policies and procedures, and c) mindful of how to de-escalate tensions so that grounded and effective conversations can be facilitated.

Socio-Political Values

One of the most challenging examples of value conflict in the workplace comes when social, legal, or political differences are surfaced. Recognizing another person doesn’t have the same socio-political values can create character assumptions, demonization, and defensiveness for anyone involved. These tensions can lead regular conversations to escalate or devolve quickly into mutual attacks, sparking interpersonal or intergroup conflict in the workplace.

This is a challenging situation to navigate, since certain laws or business policies will need to be enforced while still attempting to respect employees’ values and their individual choices. In these cases, a company may choose to bring in conflict management professionals to help navigate organizational conflict and turn potentially costly issues into opportunities for growth.

Learning about examples of value conflict in the workplace can help you become more equipped to recognize them within your own organization. If you find yourself needing additional support navigating conflict at work, reach out to 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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