Transform Conflict into Positive Outcomes  

Conflict is an inevitable part of the workplace. Whether it is a disagreeable coworker, a disagreement on how to proceed with a project, or something different, conflict can happen any time multiple people come together.

Understanding the most common causes of workplace conflict and knowing how to resolve it is an important skill for everyone in today’s workplace.

Common Causes of Conflict 

1. Conflicting Resources 

Resources are the tools we need to succeed in the workplace. Resources like time, supplies, face time with colleagues, and space are essential to strong performance. When more than one person is vying for a resource, conflict is likely to occur. As a leader, it is your responsibility to understand the need for resources in your workplace in order to get to the root of the conflict.  

Practical solution: During resolution, approach the conflict in terms of equalizing access to the limited resources. Make sure to hear the needs of each party. Consider teaching employees techniques for time management and better utilization of available resources. It can also be good to illustrate alternatives, when possible.

2. Conflicting Goals  

Most employees have a variety of goals in the workplace. Those goals will differ from person to person. An employee’s goals may also be different than their manager’s goals.

Practical solution: Take this into consideration when setting goals for your team and for individuals. If conflict arises, take time to understand the goals of each party involved. Doing so will clarify an employee’s actions and their motivation.  

3. Conflicting Roles  

Any time a team of people is assembled to complete a task, there are multiple roles present. Conflict over those roles may occur.

Consider two employees. One is from accounting and one is from marketing. They come together to discuss the logistics of an upcoming marketing campaign. These two different roles create opportunity for conflict because the two roles carry different expectations and goals.

The marketing employee is tasked with creating a successful marketing campaign. They may push to increase the budget. The accountant is tasked with keeping the company in a good fiscal position. They may want to scale back the spending. These different roles and expectations can create conflict.  

Practical solution: Clarify the roles of your employees so they are all working in their appropriate areas. When assembling teams, make the team’s objective clear. This will help the members focus on achieving the team goal rather than their individual goal(s).   

4. Conflicting Personalities and Values 

Each employee will bring a unique personality and set of values to the workplace. All employees have a different set of experiences and circumstances that have brought them to where they are right now.

Practical solution: Take time to understand the personalities and value systems that your employees possess. Moreover, make it a part of the company culture to be considerate and engaging of each person’s personalities and value systems. While this requires time and intentionality, it will result in a healthier and more productive workplace.  

Transform Conflict into Positive Outcomes

Understanding the most common causes of conflict will help leaders minimize conflicts in the workplace. As a manager, take time to strengthen your personal communication skills in order to avoid workplace conflicts and to set a positive example for your employees.

Learn from the Best

Learn more about working through workplace conflict with leadership and supervisory experts at our upcoming Transforming Conflict into Positive Outcomes training.