Causes of Conflict
Some people do not ask for help during conflicts at work because they are not always aware there is a problem or do not know when to ask for mediation. Conflict can arise in organisations because of miscommunication, misunderstanding, cultural differences, choice of language, poor leadership, ineffective management styles, unclear roles and responsibilities.
As well as workplace issues creating conflict, work colleague’s personality types and personal issues are added to the mix at work, which can also create or exacerbate a conflict. Things like:
- personal problems at home,
- marital issues,
- cultural or gender differences,
- family problems,
- abrasive or submissive personalities (for instance, some personalities become annoyed with quiet, withdrawn type characters and others are fearful of loud or aggressive characters),
- some people are insensitivity to others feelings and what may seem trivial to one person could be a huge issue for another.
Personal disappointments, coupled with unmet needs and a whole host of negative emotions, like guilt, fear or jealousy over promotion can also add to conflict. There are many emotions that are not directly related to work, but which people bring to the workplace that can cause conflict.
The CIPD survey Managing Conflict at Work found the main causes were: Behaviour and conduct, performance or lack of it, sickness absence (work colleagues can become frustrated with perpetual absences and having to do someone else’s job because they are constantly off work), relationships between employees, theft and fraud, bullying and harassment and sex discrimination.
A team of six administrators worked in the Accounts Department. It was essential that they all worked as a co-operative team. Therefore, each member of the team had to keep all other members of the team up to date at all times on developments in the company and changes in policies.
One member of the team, C, had joined the team six months ago. The rest of the team members had worked together for 3-4 years. The team leader had also previously been a member of the team and had been promoted to team leader 9 months earlier. She had been involved in the recruitment of C but had been surprised at how quickly C was becoming acquainted with the work and how the rest of the team looked to her for assistance.
C started to discover that the team leader was excluding her from updates and information which she then had to rely on her colleagues to update her. There were also a couple of occasions when C was informed by colleagues outside of the Department that her information was not up to date. In addition to this C found that the team leader was excluding her from treats she bought for the team and from social discussions. C found she was dreading coming to work and felt she would have to discuss this with the team leader. She found it difficult to raise the issue directly with her and decided to find out about the mediation process.
The team leader reluctantly agreed to mediation as she initially denied that there was a problem. During mediation both individuals were encouraged to communicate on the identified issues to promote mutual understanding and to refocus on the future, instead of dwelling on the current problems. It transpired that the team leader felt threatened by C as she seemed to be popular amongst customers and colleagues alike. She felt that C would be a threat in the future to her role and therefore felt that by her actions, C would not develop outside of her role.
However, C shared that she was not interested in being a team leader but wanted to be good at her job. Therefore, both parties were able to reach an outcome that was agreeable to both. The team leader also felt that she would benefit from attending some managerial training as she had not had the opportunity to do this. Both agreed to review their relationship on an ongoing basis.
How Can Mediation Help?
However, Some of the conflict resolution methods are based on active listening, empathy, effective communication skills, creating a collaborative group process which involves every employee at every level and department. This can then be infused in an organisation’s culture and reflected in its daily operations. It can help:
- retain and motivate employees;
- increase productivity;
- increase customer satisfaction and loyalty;
- improve an organization’s bottom line.
- because it lowers stress, it makes for a better work environment overall.
Other conflict resolution methods involve:
- Identifying predictors of conflict and high conflict areas, then design preventative measures
- Create safety nets and informal problem-solving sessions and open outlets for constructive expression of differences can provide an array of procedures to deal with conflict resolution.
- Acting as a facilitator to reduce bias and prejudice through training and encouraged dialogue,
- Introducing creative problem solving and mediation through workshops and training groups, focusing on mutual interests between colleagues and/or management rather than workers’ rights or power within the organisation.
- Look at revitalising relationships and morale within the organisation through openness and transparency.
If you think you may need advice on Mediation or when to ask for mediation, then please call us on 01706 565332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you. ff