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Conflict management

More often than not, conflict is a lose/lose situation for all involved. Relationships get damaged (sometimes irrevocably), morale is affected and companies can end up losing valued employees. The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, found that one in three UK employees (38%) have experienced some form of interpersonal conflict in the last year and one in ten are leaving their organisation as a result of conflict in the workplace. Click here for more information.

At our April GBC meeting, we took a look at some of the most effective ways to manage conflict in the office:

Good practiceIn practice…

Make good relationships with your colleagues a priority.

Ask to have word privately.

Treat the other with respect, be courteous, discuss matters constructively. Build mutual respect and understanding.
Try to understand their point of view

Give the other person time to explain the situation before going on the attack. You may find that you aren’t aware of the full picture.

Set out the facts

This helps to focus on the problem rather the emotions you may be experiencing. This really helps to focus on resolving the issues and doesn’t make the conflict quite so personal.

Focus on shared goals/common ground

In a workplace, we essentially want the same thing – the company to be a success. Maybe there are additional goals that you share – you both want to do a good job, you both want to be valued for the work for you, you both want to have good relationships with your colleague. Focus on this common ground to make you both more aware of your similarities rather than your differences.

Be open to the idea that a third position may exist

Life isn’t black and white. One person doesn’t have to be completely right or 100% in the wrong. There may not be one “perfect” solution. By getting your heads together, you may be able to come up with a solution that can benefit all of you.
Find a third person to mediate

If necessary, bring in someone who is more neutral to mediate, especially if you find you can’t resolve the conflict yourselves or if it’s escalating.

Pick your battles

It’s worth giving a lot of time and thought to whether a conflict helps you move closer to the goal in mind.

View conflict as opportunity

Conflict is never pleasant. But, if managed well it can be an opportunity to get to the nub of an issue and help you resolve any underlying tension.

In an ideal world, conflict just would not happen in the workplace. But with so many personalities (and egos), competition for attention and promotions, and different working styles, conflict is an inevitable part of work. And it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you can quickly resolve the issues that are bubbling up effectively, you may well end up with a team that is stronger, understands themselves and each other better and sets a strong example on how to resolve issues.