Gavin Campion on Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Gavin Campion
4 min readFeb 15, 2023

Workplace conflict costs around $359 billion annually, and it can interrupt operations and lead to employee morale issues. Disputes can also affect an organization’s profitability.

Human resource management and business leadership are vital roles that help prevent workplace conflict from happening. These individuals oversee the implementation of policies and procedures designed to resolve disputes.

If you’re planning on becoming a leader in your company, you’ll most likely be responsible for preventing conflict. According to a study conducted by the AMA, 24% of managers spend a significant amount of time resolving disagreements. Here are some tips for dealing with conflict you encounter in the workplace.

Promote Open Communication

To prevent conflict from happening, establish an environment that’s conducive to open communication. One of the most effective ways to do this is by implementing a policy that encourages employees to approach management directly if they have concerns.

This can be done through active listening, team building, and asking questions. This environment will help employees reach out whenever they have concerns, which can help prevent disputes from escalating.

Assess the Situation’s Seriousness

Before you can start addressing the issue, you must understand the root cause of the problem. This can be caused by miscommunication, employee competition, or mismatched personalities. Your company should have procedures and policies if a severe case requires an EEOC investigation.

Regardless of the reason for the conflict, it’s crucial to identify the root cause of the issue and come up with a solution that will prevent it from happening in the future.

Encourage Employees to Find Solutions

Sometimes, letting employees resolve their disagreements independently is a good idea. This is because you don’t want to feel like you’re micromanaging everyone in the office.

However, if you notice that some of your employees are engaging in political banter or friendly disagreements, you must look at the situation. If the disputes don’t escalate, these situations can be great opportunities for the employees and you to find a solution. Unfortunately, sometimes, stepping in too early can lead to an escalation. If you believe the situation is worsening, it’s time to take action.

Intervene When Needed

Although disagreements can happen in the workplace, it’s your job to decide whether or not you should take action.

Here are some situations where taking action is necessary. These include: If the banter turns aggressive or explicit, escalating it to bullying, or if there are allegations of harassment or discrimination. If the exchange is threatening or insulting, it could affect team morale or disrupt the work environment.

You should also consider any complaints your staff members bring to your attention. Even if the situation is not severe, ensure everyone is heard.

Listen Carefully

Everyone involved should be allowed to present their issue without interruption. You must remain neutral and actively listen to everyone to help employees understand the other’s perspective.

Once they feel they are being heard and acknowledged, they’ll be more likely to find a peaceful solution. You can also keep the other employees informed about the situation as you work to resolve it.

Document Events

When dealing with disagreements in the workplace, you should keep track of all disciplinary meetings, conversations, and other employee-related activities. This will allow you to monitor the behavior of the individuals and identify those who may be damaging your company’s reputation. You should also record incidents in case one of the employees tries to sue you.

Find an Acceptable Solutions

As a leader, you should help employees find a fair solution to their issues. When disagreements do occur, be sure to address the problems immediately. However, don’t rush to resolve them, as this can lead to a negative outcome.

Coordinate an open discussion between the involved parties to establish a clear understanding of the conflict.

After the employees have discussed their issues, they’ll likely realize they have the same goal. This will help you work toward a solution that’s both acceptable and feasible.

Gather several ideas for a solution to the problem, and discuss all possible options positively. Although you’ll likely have to discuss the pros and cons, it’s also essential to find win-win scenarios that both parties can agree on.

After you have identified the possible solutions, the employees should be allowed to devise a plan they can agree on. If they can’t find an acceptable solution, suggest another option.

After settling, it’s essential to follow up with the workers to ensure the issues are resolved. Doing so will allow you to implement the necessary changes.

Originally published at https://gavincampion.co on February 15, 2023.

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Gavin Campion

Gavin Campion is known for his ability to turnaround struggling businesses and put them on the map. He has decades as a startup entrepreneur. gavincampion.net.