Conflict in the Workplace

Temperatures are rising. Are tempers flaring in your workplace? Conflict is natural in life and at work, and how we handle it can make all the difference. It can help energize us and take us to new heights, or it can torpedo productivity. Most often our concern is with the latter.

I have studied incivility in the workplace and know that it can be a problem when there is unexpressed conflict. There are a number of ways that you can meet the challenge of conflict at work without it turning into snarky behavior or escalated dynamics.

You may want to start with following basic steps to nurture civility in your workplace:

  • Hire for good behavior by including questions about civil behaviors. Listen attentively to responses and look for specific examples.
  • Discuss and post your code of conduct. Make it a priority in onboarding new employees.
  • Make sure leadership sets the tone and consistently models desired civil behaviors.
  • Instead of assuming employees understand what “appropriate and professional behavior” is, discuss common workplace issues and provide examples of acceptable behaviors.
  • Define consequences of uncivil behavior and hold offenders equally accountable.

It’s also important to provide employees with support and information so they know how to handle conflict in the workplace. Employers Council has classes your employees and supervisors may find helpful:

Finally, if you find conflict in your workplace has escalated to the point that you no longer know how to manage it, give us a call. We might have some ideas for de-escalating the conflict, or we might recommend that you consider coaching, mediation, or an intervention for a team in pain.

The more you know, the more effective you can become at managing conflict in the workplace. While addressing it is never easy (or fun), we can take the snark out of it and manage it more productively.