Effects and Causes of Conflict Among Employees
By Mark Taylor
This article originally appeared in HRZone. You may read the same article on the original publishing website here.
Do you know what it takes to create a productive team? According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, a workplace characterized by positive and “virtuous” practices is able to form a productive team. Such practices, the report went on to say, include caring for your colleagues as friends, treating one another with gratitude, respect, trust and integrity, providing support whenever needed, offering compassion and kindness when you see your colleague struggling with something and more. However, a team becomes even more productive when they avoid blaming each other and forgive mistakes. But is all this achievable in the real world?
Effect of Employee Conflict on BusinessesAccording to a study on workplace conflict, commissioned by CPP Inc, publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, in 2008, US employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. What’s worse was that these hours translated into the wastage of 385 million working days and approximately $359 billion in paid hours, when calculated on the basis of average hourly earnings of $17.95. It was also added in the study that around 85% of the employees had to deal with conflict to some extent, and spend a significant amount of time managing such conflicts, while 29% US employees do so “always” or “frequently.” But how do conflicts amongst employees affect the entire organization? The fact is that a conflict never occurs by itself. It is accompanied by a lot of time spent in gossiping, protecting turf, retaliating, taking sides, planning one’s defence and navigating the drama. This is that precious time which the employees would otherwise have spent on their designated tasks in the company, for which they have been hired. Things can get even worse when two employees in conflict recruit other employees to take sides. This encourages the involvement of the entire organization where their presence is not required. However, according to a blog post by Abel HR, most conflicts can be prevented, thereby saving a business’ time, easing frustration and regaining productivity. Having some fun at the workplace, giving positive feedback, immediately reaching out to the HR department, and respecting differences are some of the many ways workplaces can keep the positive energy going. And to find quick resolutions to conflict, it is important to understand the root causes of such conflicts that can create distances between employees and affect their productivity. Watch the video Four Tips for Managing Conflict here.
4 Reasons for Conflicts Among Employees
- Poor Communication: Effective communication is vital to the functioning of any organization. In many companies, employees prefer to talk about each other to others, rather than the person concerned. This creates confusion and misinterpretation of facts. Even improper communication about an assigned task can jeopardize an employee’s performance, while risking his job. This only fuels their negativity towards the person who miscommunicated.
- Differences in Personalities: An interesting blog post by Fundera listed 7 different personalities you can find in every office. These include a solo artist, an employee loved by his managers, someone who is always ready with an excuse, everybody’s best friend, an employee that easily goes off, etc. And, the HR department can have a hard time managing all these different personalities. Moreover, these employees can have a hard time understanding or accepting each other’s differences. Tools like the Myers-Briggs assessment can help employees better understand and accept each other's differences and ways of working.
- Differences in Values: Your mate always wants to ditch his work, while you are someone for whom work is worship. These differences in values related to work ethics and working style can lead to misunderstandings and increase the chances of conflict. Such differences in values are also seen in workplaces where people from different generations work together.
- Sense of Competition: The workplace is not only a place where one comes to finish their daily tasks. It is also a place where people challenge themselves to grow, sometimes taking their co-workers as competition. If such competition is carried out in a healthy way, it is beneficial for everyone, including the business. But when competition involves personal grudges and ego, accompanied by sabotaging and insulting one another, things go downhill very quickly.