Conflict Happens…

Has anyone seen those super cute onesies that have “Spit Happens” across the front? So cute! Well, maybe another slogan should be “Conflict Happens!” You’re right, it probably won’t be nearly as popular, but the reality is that conflict happens – it’s inevitable.

Sometimes, conflict is rooted in some deep seated values that we hold near and dear to our hearts. It’s easy to assume that everyone else has similar values because they are so fundamental to our belief system. We like to assume that everyone else has those same values. Unfortunately, in our workplaces, it is extremely likely that you will be working with people who have very different core values than you and those differences are causes of conflict in the workplace. 

Specifically, we sometimes have conflicts when various members of the team are working on a similar task, but each team member’s ability to complete their responsibility is dependent on other members of the team. This always reminds me of payroll. When I was a supervisor, my ability to complete the timesheets and get them submitted to accounting was very much dependent on all the staff to get their timesheets to me by a particular date. Everyone wants to get paid on pay day, but I’m not sure that everyone knows what exactly that entails. Lots of room for workplace conflict here!

Another source of conflict may be leadership style. I’ve worked with some leaders who are prone to micromanagement and I’ve worked with some leaders who are much more laid back in their approach. If you have expectations that are not being met, it can lead to workplace conflict.

Work style and personalities vary from person to person and can also be the root for workplace conflict. Some people prefer to work individually, while others thrive working as part of a team. Sometimes people work well under pressure, while others may prefer to have a longer timeline with a number of target dates. Those two different types might have a difficult time working cohesively together.

It is important for teams to be able to resolve conflict in a productive fashion. Left unchecked, conflict can boil over to actual workplace violence. It is important to reduce workplace violence and a part of our plan should be addressing conflict before it becomes dangerous. Everyone deserves a safe workplace environment, but we must also recognize what each of us can contribute to that safer work environment. Here’s how we do that:

  • Calm down – in Mandt language we would say affirm your emotions and choose your behavior.
  • Use active listening and be open to other people’s points of view/perspective.
  • Focus on where you agree and less on where you disagree.
  • Practice forgiveness. We are all human and we all make mistakes.
  • Seek help

If you need coaching, training, leadership training, etc. your workplace may need some outside guidance. Mandt has a number of consultative services available if you think it would be beneficial to your agency. We’re here to help!

Nikki Wince – Mandt Faculty Supervisor

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