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5 Ways to Manage Workplace Conflict

With the average UK employee spending 36.5 hours a week at work, this means the experience needs to be a positive one.

However, with different personalities all working together, it is inevitable that sometimes disagreements will occur.

It is reported that 38% of employees in the UK experience interpersonal conflict at work in an average year. 

Conflicts can be defined as anything from poor communication to an employee facing discrimination. 

As well as the tense office environment a conflict creates, it can be costly for an employer to leave it unresolved. The total annual cost to employers in the UK, including management and resolution, is £28.5 billion

With that in mind, here are our top 5 ways to manage workplace conflict.


Don’t let a conflict fester

If you are aware of an issue bubbling under the surface, don’t wait until it has exploded! It will benefit everyone involved if a conflict can be resolved before it becomes a major issue. 

Conflicts rarely resolve themselves without some sort of intervention and festering conflict could affect the performance of every member of your team.

Nipping a potentially negative situation in the bud will also decrease its opportunity to reappear at a bad moment. 


Take the time to listen to everyone

Even if you share the same opinion with one party involved, it’s important to take the time to listen to everybody’s side of the story. 

Appearing to support only one side of the argument could leave an employee feeling ganged up on and delay the conflict being resolved. 

If those involved can’t resolve the conflict without an external party, it is your responsibility to act as an unbiased moderator. 


Focus on the situation, not personalities

During a conflict it’s important to put personalities to one side and focus on the situation at hand.

You could end up disciplining the wrong person if you make a preconceived judgement as to who is to blame, based upon their personality or history.

To act as an unbiased moderator you must solely focus on the facts of the situation and put any personal opinions of people to the back of your mind.

In your head, separate the people involved, their emotions and the problem so that your judgement isn’t affected.


Work with everyone involved to develop a solution

In order to successfully resolve a conflict, it is a good idea to work on a resolution plan with all parties involved.

Developing this kind of plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all process and including every party involved will give them the chance to suggest the steps that need to be taken. 

This will also increase the chances of the resolution plan being a success!


Create a plan to avoid future conflicts

When a conflict is resolved it’s important to reflect on the causes to ensure that the issue doesn’t reoccur. 

For example, if the conflict was the result of somebody not following instructions correctly, introduce a way of ensuring all responsibilities are clearly instructed to your team. 

Having a plan in place to avoid future conflicts will create a happier working environment for your whole workforce.