Conflict is a natural and unavoidable part of our lives. It can happen in any situation, whether we are at home with our families, out with friends, or at work.
Although it’s difficult to avoid conflict at workplace. But it’s possible to recognise the common causes of conflict at workplace and resolve it.
When conflicts are resolved amicably, these can lead to better ideas, better relationship and performance of employees.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common sources of conflict at workplace, and we’ll provide tips on how to manage them effectively.
What is Conflict at Workplace?
Conflict at workplace is defined as “a disagreement between two or more people working together on a common goal”. It happens due to difference of opinions, motivation, and goals.
Everyone has a different mindset, background and perspectives and has a different values and worldview. Every employee has a unique way to express the conflict.
Conflicts are expressed in different ways. People stop cooperating with others, some use verbal insults to express conflict, anger and physical brawl are also common expression of conflict.
Types/Causes of conflict at workplace
1. Leadership style
Every leadership has own style some are highly skilled and strictly follow the rules while others are bold, welcomed and inviting. Some leaders take good care of their employees while others totally thing about organisation.
When there is a disagreement about the direction the company should be going, it can lead to conflict among employees. For example, if the CEO wants to implement a new strategy that will involve layoffs, this could lead to conflict with employees who are worried about their jobs.
2. Resistance to change
It’s always difficult to accept change. Employees resist change out of fear of unknown and uncertainty. They fear loss of their jobs and feel uncomfortable about adopting new ways of working.
Whenever an organization implement change, employees and other stakeholders start resisting it. Sometimes this resistance is so powerful that it can derail entire change initiative.
This resistance is a source of conflict at workplace. It’s a conflict between who wants to implement change and who wants status-quo.
3. Difference in personalities
Humans are not exactly alike. They have different nature, characteristics, perspectives and backgrounds. It’s good to have different type of personalities at workplace because it makes a workplace diverse. Diversity has its own merits.
But difference in personalities often causes conflict at workplace. For example, introverts may find extroverts to be too loud and outgoing while extrovert may find introverts to be too shy and reserved.
People often lack their ability to understand and adjust with difference of personality and this causes conflict at workplace.
4. Working style
People have different working style. Some people work quickly without guidance while others cannot complete task without proper instructions. When they do not complete the task that create a conflict.
Someone may like creative work but others are methodical and follow process. This difference is also a source of conflict.
If one employee feels like they are being overloaded with work, this can lead to conflict with their manager or co-workers. This can also happen if one employee feels like they are not being given enough work to do.
5. Limited resources
Some organizations have limited resources like equipments, machines, tools. There is conflict at workplace when these resources are not equally available for all team members.
For example, if there are only a few laptops or systems available in the office, this can lead to conflict between employees who need to use them. The intensity of this type of conflict gets worse when there is no policy available on usage of resources and entitlements.
Everyone wants to get higher position in office or job but it is not possible. If there is a lot of competition among employees for promotions or raises, this can lead to conflict. Some employees feel they are not fairly treated.
This can also happen if employees feel like they are not being given the same opportunities as their colleagues. Sometime a person works on an idea of other and got the higher position, this also create a conflict among team members.
7. Politics at workplace
Politics or favoritism can create a conflict among people in the workplace. Sometime boss or higher authority give special favor too few employees this can create a fuss and conflict in the workplace.
Office politics can often lead to conflict in the workplace. For example, if one employee is trying to get another employee fired, he/she will make a group and involve few persons in it, this can lead to conflict between the two employees.
8. Work related stress
Work related stress is very common cause of conflict at workplace. When employees are under stress, they feel physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, and difficulty thinking clearly. It generates negative emotional like anger, anxiety, and fear which leads to conflict among team members.
If left unchecked, stress can have a serious impact on our health, both mental and physical. Employees who get caught in conflict mays find themselves feeling anxious, stressed, and even physically ill. They may also have difficulty concentrating, and their performance may suffer.
If behaviour or action of a coworker is threatening to health or safety of other coworker then it is also defined as workplace bullying. It might come in verbal, physical, or emotional abuse, and it can happen to anyone in workplace.
There are various negative consequences of workplace bullying such as low morale of victim, mental health issues, reduced productivity and conflict.
If management and leadership doesn’t pay attention to address bullying then the victim may resort to conflict out of his/her frustration.
10. Bad Work Habits
There are certain bad work habits which cause conflict at workplace. If someone is showing up late or procrastinating or missing deadlines then this habit may affect work of other coworkers. This ultimately causes conflict.
Workplace gossip is also one of common bad habits. When people talk about someone’s else personal life or professional life in his/her absence. This habit produces negativity, reduces productivity and spark conflict.
These bad work habits can be addressed if leadership and senior managers are not involved in it. They can rectify it by taking correction actions. But if they are involved in these habits then these bad habits will become organizational culture and then it’s hard to change that culture.
Conflicts happen at every workplace. The first step to resolve conflict at workplace is to understand what causes that conflict. There are ten most common causes of conflicts and if these are analyzed by leadership then there are high chances that conflicts will be resolved amicably and professionally.