Conflict in the Workplace

There is no such thing as a conflict-free workplace. What makes a difference is how organizations deal with conflict.

Ideally, leadership would foster a conflict competent culture that handles disputes constructively. Otherwise, the costs and risks of having too much or too little conflict could make or break an organization. 

Too Much Conflict - Dysfunctional teams, territorial defense, warring egos, silos, blaming, win-lose style of decision making, etc.

Too Little Conflict -  Employees keeping their "heads down", not offering feedback or ideas, etc.

Realistically, most organizations find themselves occasionally slipping into the realms of too much or too little conflict. As that happens, and as disputes break out, there are some short term solutions:

 

Hiring a Workplace Mediator to Resolve a Dispute

On the roster of Civil Mediators in British Columbia, there are over a hundred mediators who offer services in workplace mediation. Scroll through their profiles to find one located near you and suitable to your needs:

Find a Workplace Mediator

 

Developing a Conflict Competent Culture

According to this study, the biggest driver for high-quality outcomes during conflict is training and coaching.

Training

Just over half (57%) of full-time employees in the U.S. had any training in how to manage workplace conflict. Assuming B.C. has similar numbers, that's a 43% gap. A variety of workplace mediators on the roster offer group training services. To find one, search for mediators who practice in "Employment & Workplace" mediation, and use keywords to narrow down the search with terms like "training."

Conflict Management Coaching

A third of managers (31%) think they handle disagreements well, but only 22% of subordinates agree. All while seven out of ten employees (70%) believe conflict management is a "very" or "critically" important leadership skill (see study). Workplace mediators on the roster often offer coaching services. To find one, search for mediators who practice in "Employment & Workplace" mediation, and use keywords to narrow down the search with terms like "training."

 

Managers who are proactive with information, resources, training, and access to services can avoid the destructive side of conflict, improve relationships and support an innovative and collaborative culture. 

We should have had a mediator in sooner, the changes have been dramatic. Rees S.

Did you know...

Unresolved conflict leads to:

  • 90% of involuntary departures
  • 75% of employees avoiding co-workers
  • 65% of performance problems
  • 50% of voluntary departures
  • $359 billion a year in direct costs and lost opportunities

In a national survey of American workplaces employees reported that only 13% of managers were effective at handling conflict.