Workplace conflict: What can your organisation do? 

Conflict occurs in just about every workplace. When it's not managed effectively there can be adverse impacts.

July 09 2018


Conflict occurs in just about every workplace1. When conflict is not managed effectively there can be adverse impacts upon those experiencing it2 and costs for the organisation1.  Experts1 suggest that conflict at work is inevitable, difficult and important. Conflict is also critical for identifying ways of dealing with differing personalities, goals, interests, and values in social interaction.

Conflict can be challenging in the moment but conflict handled well can build psychological capital, such as empowerment, insight, recognition, and connection among organisational members1.

There are three effective interventions an organisation can consider for managing conflict1:

1. Training


Effective conflict resolution training aims to be preventative and provides individuals with skills to improve their ability to handle conflict. These training sessions help employees communicate more effectively and be more empathetic.  Participants were able to apply their conflict resolution skills and better build relationships in their real work places as a result of attending conflict resolution training1

2. Workgroup conflict interventions


In workgroup conflict interventions an entire work unit participates in a facilitated discussion focused on civility and day to day social encounters. The workgroup defines its own standards and expectations for civil behaviour and what is not appropriate. A trained facilitator enables discussion of problems and acknowledgement of progress.

These programs have shown to increase:


- the level of positive conflict behaviours
- respect among the workgroup

The program decreases:


- cynicism
- burnout.

These impacts lasted for more than a year following the intervention.

3. Coaching and mediation


When complaint procedures risk aggravating the conflict situation, organisations may wish to consider alternative dispute resolution options. This can include conflict coaching, which is a facilitated conversation between two or more parties, and mediation.

Mediation is an attempt to resolve conflict with the help of a trained third party who does not impose a solution, but who facilitates communication, identifies issues and suggests potential solutions. Participants of mediation tend to view the procedure as fair, just and helpful. 

If you are looking for ways to improve the way in which your organisation handles conflict, ask your EAP what they can do to help. Contact your EAP on 1800 629 277 or support@maxsolutions.com.au.

References:
1. Oore, D., Leiter, M., LeBlanc, D., (2015). Individual and Organizational Factors Promoting Successful Responses to Workplace Conflict. Canadian Psychology / Psychologie canadienne, Vol. 56, No. 3, 301–310
2. Sonnentag, S., Unger, D., & Nägel, I.,J. (2013). Workplace conflict and employee well-being. International Journal of Conflict Management, 24(2), 166-183. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/10444061311316780
3.  Gupta, Mahesh; Boyd, Lynn; Kuzmits, Frank. International Journal of Conflict Management; Bowling Green Vol. 22, Iss. 4,  (2011): 394-412.

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