Everyone can expect that some amount of conflict will occur in their workplace since people spend so much time working closely together. Some common sources of conflict include unresolved disputes, poor communication, undefined or ambiguous roles, limited resources, personality differences, job changes, and abuse of authority. Conflicts are typically resolved naturally by negotiation or collaboration. These solutions usually involve some amount of compromise and mutually beneficial agreements between the involved parties. In other instances, conflicts are ignored until the situation demands attention.
From a high-level view, conflicts in the workplace can be categorized into two types: harmful and beneficial. Harmful conflicts are often caused by misunderstandings, poor communication, harassment, bullying, or an abuse of authority. These types of conflicts, if left unresolved, can lead to diminished employee morale, decreased productivity, and increased turnover. Unresolved conflicts can also lead to decreased customer satisfaction, and even lost business.
Conflicts can also be beneficial to an organization, as they can lead to positive changes, process improvements, greater efficiency, and stronger interpersonal relationships. Healthy conflict presents opportunities for individuals to learn and grow, as well as to identify new ways of doing things more efficiently.
Since interpersonal conflict is often a major source of stress in the workplace, it is critical for organizations to offer solutions to manage these issues. A significant part of a manager’s day can be consumed by resolving workplace conflicts, but a well-designed conflict resolution process encourages open communication and teamwork. This will ultimately produce a favourable domino effect, leading to improvements in employee wellness, job satisfaction, and customer service.
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