Managing conflict

Managing conflict: five top tips


Conflict between members of staff can have a negative effect on the day-to-day working of your business. It could result in an employment dispute and even affect the health and wellbeing of your employees.

The following top tips will help you to manage relationships within your business and minimise conflict.

1. Spot the signs of conflict: conflict can have a negative impact on your employees in a number of ways. These include: a lack of motivation; unpleasant behaviour; falling productivity and increased staff absence. Being proactive in spotting signs of conflict will help issues becoming a serious problem at a later stage.

2. Address conflict early on: by spotting the signs of conflict early, you have a better chance of identifying the causes and resolving the conflict. Some managers will find it easier than others to identify signs of the conflict but by addressing workplace conflict at an early stage you will prevent resentment setting in amongst the affected parties and issues developing to a point where a resolution or common ground is much more difficult to find. See conflict between groups and individuals in the workplace.

3. Be aware of the causes of conflict: there are many causes of conflict including: poor management; unclear job roles; inadequate training; lack of equal opportunities and organisational change. Other causes include: clash of personalities; increase in workload and needs and expectations not being met. See causes of conflict.

4. Try to prevent conflict: as an employer, you should try to learn why conflicts occur and then develop processes to address them. Some areas to consider include: developing a strategy for managing conflict; explaining plans for change and involving employees in decision-making; rewarding fairly and ensuring managers are properly trained. It's also important to value employees, treat them fairly, encourage initiative and try to balance employees' personal and business needs. See preventing conflict.

5. Have a formal grievance procedure in place: where possible, you should encourage employees to settle any grievances informally but you should also have formal procedures available to your employees. Doing this allows you to give reasonable consideration to any issues which cannot be resolved informally and deal with them fairly and consistently. See managing conflict: formal complaints procedures.