Workplace Conflict

Our workplace conflict resolution strategies will show you how to handle employee conflict by suggesting conflict management activities

Conflict management styles vary, but whatever approach you choose in dealing with employee conflict, our advice will help you in conflict resolution in the workplace.

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Say one of your employees stops by your office with a troubled look on her face. She has a complaint, but wants to speak with you “off the record.” Can you comply with her request for confidentiality? Should you? It all depends on the content and context of the complaint.

Workplace conflicts often arise because different people have different ways of doing things. Tips for navigating a clash of the styles:

Employees sometimes quit and claim they had no choice because work conditions were so terrible. Sometimes, they sue. In most such cases—the argument is called “constructive discharge”—courts side with employers, provided there’s no evidence the employee suffered an adverse employment action such as a transfer, demotion or pay cut.

A workplace conflict that started with jewelry has escalated into a case of dueling lawsuits. On one side: Jamie Errico, former vice president of sales for Manhattan watch retailer Concepts in Time, who has filed a gender and religious discrimination suit against her former employer. On the other: The store’s owners, who are suing Errico for trying to poach customers.

Managers who guard their time know not to get embroiled in employee disputes. Refereeing conflict can involve hours of fruitless back-and-forth verbal attacks. Instead of immersing yourself in staffers' feuds, set boundaries and ground rules. Then stay out of it.
Disputes between co-workers and between employees and their bosses are almost inevitable—which is why every HR professional must know how to gather the necessary facts to find out what’s going on. Take some time to think about and plan your inquiry even for simple, seemingly routine issues. If the situation is complicated or raises a red flag about possible legal claims, a well-planned investigation can be critically important.

Today’s economic climate has caused employers to cut budgets and workforces—and expect workers to do more with less. As they see colleagues laid off and their employers cutting back, employees are more concerned than ever about their own job security. It makes sense for employers to address stress issues in their workforces, since increased stress affects not only employees, but employers’ bottom lines.

If you manage a team that’s stuck in a rut or not working up to its full potential, it may have nothing to do with the drive and talent of the participants. They all may want to succeed and be giving 100% effort, but the results can still disappoint. The problem could be conflict—not too much, but too little.

Many lawsuits result from relatively small, manageable disputes that weren’t dealt with directly, often because HR simply didn’t know what to do or feared making it worse. Kathy Perkins, one of the presenters of our webinar, "How to Resolve Workplace Conflict," offers these proactive strategies for dealing with disruptive conflict.

Many lawsuits result from relatively small, manageable disputes that weren’t dealt with directly, often because HR simply didn’t know what to do or feared making it worse. Here are my favorite strategies for dealing with disruptive conflict, based on the book Resolving Conflicts at Work by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith.

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