Conflict at work can take many forms and can lead to significant problems for businesses, including; resignations, reputational damage or worse, employment tribunal claims.
To prevent a situation escalating, managers are advised to take steps to help recognise signs of conflict and look at options for preventing existing and future problems.
- Identify the signs
Conflicts can be identified through a heated exchange between individuals but this is not always the case. A fall in productivity can be the result of workplace unease. Only by recognising that there is a problem, can employers start to work on resolving the issue.
- Identify who is in conflict
Adopting an open-door policy will encourage employees to come forward about their concerns. If the issue involves contention between individuals it can lead to claims of bullying and should be approached with care. If the situation involves rivalries or disagreements between teams, forming representative groups from both sides is good practice and can help to highlight issues before they escalate.
- Identify the cause
Conflicts can be caused by a variety of workplace factors – such as poor management, unfair treatment or lack of equal opportunities. They can also be results of personality clashes or a perception of unfair treatment e.g. an employee may claim that their line manager sets unrealistic expectations, but they may also have long held a personal dislike of this individual, or be frustrated due to their own lack of career progression. Care should be taken to tease out the real reason for the conflict before attempting to manage and resolve the issue.
- Seeking Advice
If you need help solving employee conflict, seek advice from your HR department or engage an independent HR professional. Regardless of the steps you take to solve a conflict, you could be faced with an employee who simply refuses to change his or her attitude and the views and advice of an independent HR professional may prove invaluable in this instance to assist with the best way forward to resolution.
- Manage the issue
Informal investigation by employers should be the first port of call, to involve all individuals involved and to explore ways to resolve the conflict. To this end, managers should be trained on correct responses and conflict management techniques. If informal discussions fail and a formal grievance is raised, internal procedures that deal with bullying or misconduct should be adhered to and followed.
- Staying one Step Ahead
Put in place clear and precise policies, procedures and systems that enable active listening and allow for exploration of employee concerns. Forming positive relationships with your workforce encourages initiative and openness and builds trust between teams. Ensuring all decisions within the organisation are made fairly and transparently, including those on recruitment, promotion and behavioural expectations will help to resolve conflict issues at an early stage.
Specialist HR Solutions Ltd provide bespoke interactive training workshops for managers on conflict management and in how to conduct investigation, disciplinary and grievance procedures. Get in touch by clicking here if you’d like to know more.
If you have any further questions on the subject matter then please contact Karen Scott on 07762 629 448 or get in touch by clicking here.
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