conflict in the workplace

Topics: Employment, Conflict, Conflict management Pages: 9 (3152 words) Published: January 10, 2014
Understanding Conflict Management in the Workplace

Identify causes of conflict at work

“Interpersonal conflict occurs between two or more persons when attitudes, motives, values, expectations or activities are incompatible and if those people perceive themselves to be in disagreement.” – Hunt 1982

It is safe to assume that in every workplace you are always going to get some kind of conflict from within. Conflict in the workplace can be caused by issues from groups, individuals or the organisation itself. It’s in everyone’s best interests to stop conflict as early as possible before a situation escalates.

Some potential causes of conflict are:
1. Power and Ego
2. Clashes of personality
3. When people have contrasting values and beliefs
4. Miscommunication
5. Underlying stress and tension
6. Unresolved disagreements
7. A breach of faith or trust between individuals
Let’s look at a couple of the above examples.
Power and ego can cause major conflicts in the workplace due to people having different leadership styles e.g. authoritarian or democratic. Not all employees respond well to an authoritarian approach where they are told what to do as opposed to being able to have an input into how their jobs are done. This can cause them to feel demoralised and not appreciated meaning they no longer enjoy their jobs and the organisation do not get the best work out of them. Recent conflict at my workplace occurred when the door handle of one of our fork trucks kept getting broken and needed to be replaced hence causing unnecessary expense to the organisation. It was decided by myself that in order to stop this happening the door would be removed for a short period of time. This caused conflict because some members of the team felt that they were being punished for other peoples actions and couldn’t understand why it was not discussed with themselves first. Contrasting values and belief can also cause conflict in our place of work when members of management at TATA let us know their expectations in our morning meetings. Conflict can occur when they set us daily tonnage targets which in our opinion are sometimes impossible to meet. Sometimes these targets are unrealistic due to machinery needing maintenance or there not being enough manpower to be able to get the coils despatched to clients. Management are sometimes not willing to listen to these problems because they believe they should be sorted quickly so the targets can be reached. This cannot always happen leading to conflict between them and Pd Ports. A breach of faith or trust between individuals also occurred recently when a member of the team was asked to do some overtime so tonnage targets could be met. When speaking to the individual I learnt that they still hadn’t received payment for the last lot of overtime they completed and so they were no longer willing to do any overtime because trust had broken down and they believed theyd be working the extra hours without getting paid. We will be looking at these examples in more detail later on.

Describe the stages in the development of conflict

Once conflict has started it can sometimes go through several stages before it is resolved. Below is a diagram showing the different stages conflict can go through, although they do not always occur in a set order. Sometimes conflict cannot be resolved and only lies dormant until the problem occurs again.

Latent Conflict
This happens when individuals, groups or organizations have differences that bother one or the other. However these differences are not enough for either party to act to try and change the situation. For example when working in close proximity with someone certain behaviours can annoy another person with a different kind of personality to them. It is sometimes better to keep quiet and try and ignore this rather than get into confrontation. The seeds of this conflict might then exist for long periods of time before another party becomes...
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