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Conflict in the Workplace

How to Avoid Strangling Your Boss and Coworkers
by

Anna Bliska

on 12 January 2015

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Transcript of Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the Workplace: How to Avoid Strangling Your Boss and Coworkers
Conflict in the Workplace:
How to Avoid Strangling Your Boss and Coworkers

Team 1: Inappropriate Water Cooler Banter
5 Most Common Types of Conflict in the Workplace
1.Interdependence Conflicts
2.Differences in Style
3.Differences in Background/Gender
4.Differences in Leadership
5.Personality Clashes
How Can Human Resources Help?
Every company has their own policies for handling conflict in the workplace (except in the cases of sexual harassment and discrimination, in which case Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) guidelines must be followed).
Identifying Conflict in the Workplace
In any work place or at any job there is always going to be conflict. Most people try and avoid conflict, while others enjoy a little bit of conflict. The reality is that there is always going to be some form of conflict in the workplace. It is very important to identify these conflicts, resolve them as quickly as possible, and to the best of our ability. Being able to identify conflicts in your work place is important because conflict can cause an unpleasant atmosphere.
Levels of Conflict
Vertical Conflict
Vertical conflict takes place between two people at different levels within a company.
Employee vs Supervisor
1. Get a statement
2. Investigation
3. Get supervisor involved if applicable
4. Interview department
5. Conflict resolution
Sexual Harassment or Discrimination Investigation Process
1. Get Statement
2. Investigation
3. Interview witnesses (maintain the confidentiality of the case)
5. Conflict resolution
By: Matthew Ammon, Kathryn Austin, Anna Bliska, Deveney Boland, Alexandra Burdette & John Carter
1. Vertical
2. Horizontal

Horizontal Conflict
Horizontal conflict takes place between two employees on the same level within a company.
Employee vs Employee
1. Interdependence Conflicts
When one employee depends on the work of another in order to do their own.
It can cause conflicts if the first person is always late getting their work to the second, and as a result their work is late too.
2. Differences in Style
Everyone prefers to do their jobs a little bit different.
It can cause a conflict when two people with different styles are required to work together.
Example: one person wants to get started on a task right away, and another prioritizes it for later in the week.
3. Differences in Background/Gender
Conflicts can arise between people because of differences in educational backgrounds, personal experiences, ethnic heritage, gender, and political preferences.
4. Differences in Leadership
Each leader has their own way of leading.
It may become frustrating for an employee that works with two very different types of leaders throughout the day, because the instructions or feedback they receive may not be aligned.
5. Personality Clashes
These conflicts are caused by perceptions of character and emotions.
Example: One person is very negative at work, but very talented at their job. Their supervisor cannot stand their personality, so they never invite this employee to lunch with them. The negative employee sees employees that do not perform as well as him being rewarded, but he never gets taken to lunch.
5 Most Common Types of Conflict in the Workplace
Employee vs
Employee/Supervisor General
Investigation Process
#1
Notice the warning signs. If two employees are butting heads perhaps separating their cubicles/desks/offices is a simple solution.
#2
If you notice that there are two employees who are not getting along, mediation may help them find a common goal that they can achieve together.
#3
Be a good listener. If you provide a sympathetic ear, coworkers may vent to you. Knowing why two individuals don’t like each other may help you find a resolution.
Identifying Conflict in the Workplace
How to Resolve Conflict
A customer-friendly environment cannot exist in a hostile workplace. As a third party, we can help mediate the situation by explaining to each of them (separately) why we are trying to achieve this tranquil work environment, and that we are all in this fight together.


1. Talk about what is bothering you.

Some individuals have a hard time expressing themselves, and keep their problems bottled up inside. To resolve the issue faster, talk about it!


2. Avoid that individual until things blow over.

You will be more likely to focus on getting work done than on the problem you had last week.
3. Be the bigger person. Apologize!

A simple, “I'm sorry” can go along way. Then show you are sorry.
Resolution Techniques
A good manager doesn't try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you're the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong - that's healthy.

-Robert Townsend
Conflict Resolution
85% of employees deal with some sort of conflict.
In a recent study of over 2,700 employees at a senior manager level, only 59% said bosses dealt with their workplace conflicts capably.
Preventing Conflict
Clearly define expectations
Use effective listening strategies and acknowledge what others needs are
Positivity towards all situations and awareness of surroundings
Respectful communication and no emotional ties to subjects of conflict
Cost of Workplace Conflict
Costs of conflict include:
Valuable time wasted
Opportunity costs
Lowered employee job performance
Loss of investments and assets
Money involved in lawsuits when applicable
A study on workplace conflict in recent years showed that US employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict which led to about $359 billion in paid hours
Think about a time you experienced conflict at work...
Remember the scenario you came up with at the beginning...

After reading this presentation, would you have handled it differently?
Summary
Is conflict necessary?
Yes and No: Conflict is inevitable, but there are positive and negative types of conflict.

Avoiding conflict is worse than confronting it. Pretending there is no problem usually makes it worse.
Confronting conflict leads to resolution.
It's fine to disagree, but do it respectfully!
Concentrate on the issues, not which side you are on.
Keep conflict functional to ensure that it has a positive effect on workplace.
To keep a conflict from turning dysfunctional. Resolve it quickly.
Focus on resolution and the end result, not winning.
The End
7. Separate yourself from situations that may cause aggravation when you are angry.
6. Resolve the problem and don't attack the person.

Don't be aggressive. Communicate your feelings openly.
4. Focus on the issues rather than the position.
8. Listen without interrupting, and allow for others' needs to be satisfied.
5. Build power with others rather than power over others.
How to Prevent Conflict
Stay positive: the best way to avoid conflict is to have a good attitude and find the positives in any situation.
Be aware of personality clashes: if you know you do not get along well with certain personality types, avoid too much communication with those people, or create a strategy to communicate better with them.
Communicate Respectfully: do not let anger or other emotions cloud your communication. As long as you are communicating respectfully, dysfunctional conflict can be avoided.
How can conflict be dysfunctional/negative?
Arguing can be destructive to a company when it strains the relationships between coworkers. Inefficient communication is often the result of damaged professional relationships. This can create an uncomfortable environment for coworkers both directly and indirectly involved, as well as clients/customers. Dysfunctional conflict can hinder the overall performance of the company.
If a company has an unpleasant work environment, it will begin to show in their quality of work, ability to retain customers, and the rate of turnover among their employees.
Is Conflict Necessary?
Conflict over seats or offices at work is unnecessary, and can be avoided or at least handled with open communication.
Meaningful conflict is important for problem solving and for developing positive workplace relationships. Conflict helps to identify problems, foster creative solutions, and prioritize issues.
How can conflict be functional/positive?
Conflict can be functional, and have a positive effect on the workplace. It can be a learning and growing experience. It can help people learn their strengths and weaknesses by identifying the areas that need improvement.
Another benefit of functional conflict is that it assists managers in assigning tasks to the people best suited to do them.
Conflict can also be functional if it is constructive and improves performance.
Through conflict all parties involved can learn how to communicate differently and more efficiently. By learning different perspectives, they become more understanding and open-minded. This results in a more positive working environment for everyone.
Positive vs Negative Conflict
If you have a conflict with an individual that you don't believe can be resolved quickly and easily, report it to HR immediately. If the conflict should escalate, HR already has the conflict on record which may protect you, or expedite the investigation.
Hopefully not like this...
How did you handle it?
Full transcript