Workplace Conflicts

Attrition & Retention

How To Manage And Resolve Workplace Conflicts

Workplace Conflicts Workplace Conflicts

Workplace conflict is inevitable. No two people are the same, and when different motivations and goals clash, conflict can arise. In the workplace, conflicts usually occur when employees of different backgrounds and different work styles are brought together for a shared business purpose.

Conflict occurs naturally. However, it can and should be managed and resolved. With proper conflict resolution, you can get better ideas, better understanding, and better working relationships in the company.

Common Workplace Conflicts

There are several common types of workplace conflicts. We listed down some of the most common causes of workplace conflicts and tips to avoid them.

  1. Leadership Conflicts

Leaders are usually people who would resolve conflict in the workplace. But what if they’re the ones in conflict?

People react differently to different leadership styles. Some people take well to leaders who are bold and charismatic. Others like more laid-back and warm leaders.

Leadership conflicts not only affect those in places of management, but they can also extend down the ladder. When leaders get into conflict, the members of each team can also find themselves in less-than-ideal situations.

What’s the solution?

To prevent leadership conflicts, it is important to emphasize mutual respect for differences within the workplace. Additionally, it is important to communicate clearly the differences to find out the common voice and connect with each employee, regardless of their preference for leadership styles.

  1. Personality-based Conflicts

Each person is different. Any workplace unites people with different backgrounds, communication styles, temperaments, and experiences. As such, we should not expect team members to get along perfectly with everyone.

What’s the solution?

One thing to note is that it’s not necessary for all colleagues to be friends. However, maintaining a level of mutual respect is crucial for creating a healthy workplace.

It is the manager’s responsibility to set the tone for healthy relationships within the team. One of the best long-term solutions for preventing personality clashes is to set clear policies about conflict resolution and behavioral guidelines. It is also important to make sure all employees know and understand the policies for resolving conflict well.

Should a conflict still arise, managers need to address them immediately. Some of the best ways to resolve differences include:

  • Considering both points of view in a conflict
  • Focusing on factual information (this does not include comments on individual workers’ attitudes and characters)
  • Ask team members for the best ideas on how best to resolve conflicts
  • Follow up with a meeting to check on employee relations
  1. Work-style Conflicts

Just as there are different leadership styles and personalities, every individual also has their own working style. Some people need extra direction to get work done, others need no help to complete a task. Some people perform better under pressure while others like to finish their tasks early.

What’s the solution?

It is necessary to have a mediator who can reconcile and find out how to get them both on the same page.

In addition, tell your staff that everyone enjoys a different working style, but they should remember to have mutual respect despite each other’s differences. Encourage your staff that they have to be cooperative for the success of the job at hand.

  1. Task-based Conflicts

There are many reasons for task-based conflicts. For example, an accountant cannot complete their job on time because another employee is constantly late with their numbers. This is a conflict of poor performance.

In another example, all employees have completed their work, but one of the files submitted had errors due to a lack of clear instructions or a clear brief from management. This error will then slow down the progress of the whole team. This is an example of a conflict of poor communication.

What’s the solution?

As a leader, it is important to delegate tasks properly across the team. Additionally, it’s important to clarify the responsibilities and needs in advance. By doing so, each team member will be aware of what is expected of them and the importance of their role in completing the task.

  1. Change

A lot of people can get stuck in a habit, especially if they’ve been working the same routine for some time. Change can bring about an element of unfamiliarity that some may not be ready to embrace. This type of stress can often lead to conflict between a team member and management.

What’s the solution?

It is helpful to remember that some employees would go through denial and confusion when change is introduced. It’s also important to remember that it is human nature to resist the unknown.

Considering these factors, guide your team members through the process of embracing change. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Communicating the reasons behind the change
  • Involve your team members in the process
  • Train your team members in their new job responsibilities, if necessary
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Tackling Workplace Conflict

Think of conflict like a wound. If you leave it without medical attention for some time, the wound can fester and cause more problems. Workplace conflicts function that same way. Refusing to address workplace conflict will create a space for further issues to grow, which can negatively affect your employees and lead to decreased productivity and happiness.

There are many ways to effectively deal with workplace conflicts. Here are some conflict resolution steps you can take.

Find The Root Cause

Addressing conflict begins with knowing what is causing the issue. Is the conflict caused by a resource-scarce environment? Are any of the employees ignoring organizational goals? Are team members clashing because of different communication styles or differing perceptions?

To find out the root cause of a certain issue, schedule a one-on-one conversation with each employee and find out whether they have any problems or dissatisfaction. Make sure you choose a quiet location for the conversation.

During the meeting, assure your staff that they are free to speak out their thoughts and opinions. Make sure you’re listening to both parties involved in the conflict, allowing each side to clarify their perspectives.

Additionally, make sure you are communicating via active listening so that nothing is misinterpreted or overheard during the conversation.

Understand The Conflict

When you are resolving conflict, it is important to put yourself in the shoes of your employee and understand the issue from their point of view.

Once you understand the root cause of the conflict in the group, make sure that everything is true and without bias. Only then can you get the conflict resolved in the fairest way.

Resolve Conflict

Call for a private meeting with the people involved in the conflict. During the meeting, ask each party to discuss and choose the best resolution. This way, you are giving them the responsibility of solving their own dispute, with you acting only as a mediator.

During the meeting, it is also important to put out a zero-tolerance policy that address specific behaviors and ensure that each employee adheres to this standard. Doing so will help prevent conflict in the workplace in the future.

After Conflict Resolution

Once the conflict is resolved, ask your employees to show dedication toward a common goal. Also emphasize the importance of cooperation and mutual respect in maintaining a healthy work environment.

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The Role Of Human Resources In Resolving Conflicts

The HR department are responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures to help manage conflict in the workplace. The department is also responsible for initiating dialogue between two employees in conflict, as well as tracking the metrics and cost of such conflict-resolution efforts.

That being said, the human resources department typically do not learn of the conflict until it has escalated. HR professionals can only begin resolving conflict when they are made aware once the conflict occurs.

The Role Of Employees In Resolving Conflicts

Supervisors and managers play a major role in ensuring conflicts are resolved instead of escalated and that the HR department is made aware of potential issues. That being said, the first steps towards settling difference should always be taken by the employees themselves.

Employees should try to work out differing interests directly with their co-workers before asking senior management to step in. This type of approach will help employees develop their conflict-resolution skills, which reduces the need for managers to interrupt in the future.

Managers, however, should know where to draw the line. Employees should not be expected to handle every problem on their own as it could send a message that management ignores inappropriate behavior.


There is no single strategy to create conflict-free, positive work environments. Even a work setting where effective communication is a priority will still have conflicts.

Knowing how to solve the most common type of conflicts can be an important skill for business owners and team members. To ensure business success, keep your ear to the ground and solve conflicts in a calm manner.