Conflict in the workplace costs the UK millions of pounds a year. According to CIPD Research, half of the country’s HR professionals report having to enact work conflict resolution measures on a regular basis. With an issue this big, costly, and potentially damaging to employees and employers alike, what are the best practices for dealing with it?
At Position Ignition, I hear from clients on almost a daily basis: “The work I can handle, it’s the people I have problems with!” Clashes between co-workers will more than likely have an impact far beyond the immediate protagonists; the ramifications and the fall out can ripple across the whole organisation. And work conflicts are not an issue that is the sole preserve of any one type of person or group of people.
it’s an issue spreading across the whole of the City, affecting the most humble office junior through to the Chairman of the Board.
Indeed many of our clients are hugely successful employers and managers in their own right: exceptional, energetic individuals with significant value to offer. However, like all of us, they are vulnerable to falling-outs within their team or company. No organisation-and no individual-is immune. It’s an issue spreading across the whole of the City, affecting the most humble office junior through to the Chairman of the Board.
In fact, it was indeed the Chairman of the organisation that was involved recently in a scenario with one of our CEO clients. An acknowledged workaholic, she’d recently been diagnosed with a serious illness. She was aware that she had to make significant changes in her work/life balance but old habits – and other people’s perceptions of her – were hard to change.
Of particular interest was the lack of understanding from her Chairman. The fact that she said little about how seriously ill she was meant that she received little attention. Lack of communication, planning and understanding were leading to serious issues and conflict between all of the parties.
The client addressed the situation by taking the time and space to think things through. She looked at her priorities and recognised that nothing is more important than her health. Achieving more in the short term would not have mattered if the organisation had lost her forever. Getting clear about what is important and what needs to be done, as well as determining her own clear plan of action, resolved the situation, giving her more energy for her recovery period.
Effective communication is the root of all work conflict resolution. If leaders and managers can deal with these issues early and effectively, work conflicts will not escalate to the point of huge disruption and expense. We spend huge amounts each year on dealing with work conflict resolution when we really would not have to if only we managed it better.
Nisa Chitakasem is the co-founder of Position Ignition – a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions.
Find out more about Position Ignition here
For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career Blog or find her on Twitter @PosIgnition or Facebook