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Workplace Conflicts & How to Resolve Them

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1. Do you come with such incidents and how do you deal with them. (please share your experience giving life instances)

Conflicts are almost an integral part of everyday workplace environment. They can be termed as necessary evils as some amount of conflict brings with it different perspectives and thus are essential for organizational growth and progress. We face conflicts at work place almost every day. Conflicts between Sales – Manufacturing, Production – Quality, Sales – R & D, Sales – Marketing are quite common pertaining to their nature of work dependency. Organisation’s ability to resolve workplace conflicts rests to a large extent on how clear, fair and transparent the business processes are designed and executed. Role of Top Management is very crucial in every aspect as employees look upon them for guidance in times of conflict. It is important that at all stages Top Management/Managers should not only act and declare being fair but it’s also important to complete the loop and ensure that they are actually perceived to be fair in the eyes of all. This assurance can be showcased through a strong communication channel that reinforces to all the stake holders that nothing supersedes Organisation’s interest, by walking the talk and taking difficult decision. To avoid ambiguity/conflicts, putting a robust measurement system in place for key indexes also helps. However not all the workplace conflicts can be resolved by Top Management/Managers or through robust Business processes. Managers with High Emotional Intelligence quotient (EQ) are proven to be the best to intervene in such matters and resolve the same.


2. What is your most common strategy that works every time when dealing with disputes

It is absolutely essential to note that while resolving a conflict you need to have a neutral outlook no matter what, none of the parties should be favoured for any given reason and each one should be given a patient ear to put forth their point. The situation should be analysed most objectively and each one should be encouraged to do the same. They should rather be enabled to see what is right for Organisation as this is the only long term solution for resolving work place conflicts. This requires lot of perseverance from Top Management/Managers and of course requires support of robust business processes. Grooming of Line Managers to resolve workplace conflicts in most amicable manner is required and is another long term solution as this will resolve minor conflicts immediately and improve the immediate manager subordinate bond better instead of awaiting top management intervention always and in every small aspect. The EQ of manager’s play a major role and subsequently role of HR department to train them for the same matters a lot.


3. What are the biggest drivers of conflicts?

Every workplace has a different environment and dwells in a different culture which gives rise to different drivers, never the less some of the drivers I have observed prominently are:

  • Lack of a culture of Openness, Fairness & Meritocracy

  • Lack of Well-articulated HR /Business Processes

  • Lack of Role clarity for Individuals/Functions

  • Job insecurity

  • Personality traits


4. Can we ignore workplace conflicts?

Ignoring the Miniscule conflicts will only cause a greater outburst later thus ignoring conflicts is the biggest blunder one can make. Especially ignoring conflicts at the lowest level can make the very roots of an organization weaker. We cannot and we should not ignore conflicts / disputes. Not addressing them and resolving them in due time and manner will seriously affect Organisation’s health, culture everyday environment and eventually the Business. Here is where HR department should play a proactive role and sense the potential reasons of conflict and enable managers to address them and eventually resolve them.


5. What's the right time when HR should step in to save the situation? Please share some experiences?

HR department should not frequently step in to resolve conflicts between various individuals /Functions. They should rather focus on creating a culture wherein employees feel competent and empowered enough to resolve their conflicts by giving priority to Organisation’s interest. Depending on someone to resolve conflicts can cause delay in resolving them. Rather enabling people to be accountable and responsible for their actions and decisions will help resolve conflicts at the very source as they will be mindful of their actions and thus curb conflicts. The value of empathy also plays a major role in resolving conflicts thus instilling in them the importance of empathy and reinforcing the same will help build a better culture which faces lesser conflicts.