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Conflict at Work

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“Life will always have conflict. The idea is not to live life without conflict. The idea is to deal with conflict gracefully” - Zen proverb

Conflict is a reality of working with others. Given the range of demands, beliefs and personality types that come together, it is inevitable that conflict arises. A US study of conflict in the workplace found that the typical manager spends 25-40% of his or her time dealing with conflict in the workplace.  That’s one to two days of every work week. (Washington Business Journal, May 2005 Causes of Workplace Conflict)

Conflict can be very damaging in the workplace environment. However, resolving disputes or conflict when it does arise is not always a straightforward task. The causes of conflict can vary as every situation is unique. A 2008 study of conflict in the Canadian workplace identified the most common causes of workplace conflicts as follows: 

  • Warring egos and personality clashes (86%)
  • Poor leadership (73%) 

  • Lack of honesty (67%) 

  • Stress (64%) and 

  • Clashing values (59%) 

Some of the other most commonly identified causes of conflict include:

  • Unclear Expectations - a Line Manager may believe he / she has clearly communicated what is expected from the team but they have a completely different idea of what is required of them. This can result in frustration for the Line Manager and confusion in the Employee, creating a tense environment that can lead to conflict.