Sources of conflict
When workplace situations spiral out of control, they can be difficult to address. Familiarizing yourself with the following common sources of conflict will help you to diffuse situations before they occur:
- Lack of clarity. Employees wind up in turf wars when boundaries aren’t clearly defined. A well-written job description, along with clearly defined reporting relationships can help prevent this situation.
- Limited resources. In today’s environment where people are asked to do more with less, there is often conflict over time, money, supplies, and even space. When you observe conflict in the workplace, determine if employees have adequate resources to do their work. Whenever possible, include employees in the resource-allocation process. This will provide them with a better understanding of how allocation decisions are made in your organization.
- Conflicts of interest. Individuals fighting for personal goals and losing sight of organizational goals can create quite a ripple in the organization. Continually remind employees how their personal goals and efforts fit with the organization’s strategic business goals.
- Poor communication. Poor communication leads to misunderstanding and discord among employees. For instance, disputes can occur if the manager asks one employee to relay important instructions to the other employees, but the employee fails to provide all the information. Lack of information can lead to projects being incorrectly done and to employees blaming each other for the end result.
- Power struggles. The need to control is at the root of many workplace conflicts. Who should have that information? Who should be involved on that project? Who has the corner office? Recognize that power struggles exist. Teach employees how to manage relationships in the organization so they can effectively navigate political mine fields.
A word of caution. Ignoring workplace conflict will only make matters worse. Take action and before long, you’ll regain your sanity.