Conflict Management tips at the workplace

At workplace there will always be minor disagreements and differences of opinion. The effects of conflict in the workplace are widespread and costly. Its prevalence, as indicated by three serious studies, shows that 24-60% of management time and energy is spent dealing with anger. This leads to decreased productivity, increased stress among employees, hampered performance, high turnover rate, absenteeism and at its worst, violence. The way you handle conflict in the workplace can have a huge impact on how you are viewed as an employee. It can affect your entire career and it can say a lot about your character.

Conflict arises from differences, and when individuals come together in teams, their differences in terms of power, values, and attitudes contribute to the creation of conflict. You can’t win a conflict at work. Winning a conflict means getting the outcome ‘you’ want regardless of what the ‘other’ person wants. Since the underlying issue has not been solved, it will simply reappear later. Hence it is much better to resolve a conflict than win it. Unresolved conflicts make people unhappy at work and can result in antagonism, break-down in communications, inefficient teams, stress and low productivity. Conflict is not necessarily destructive, however. When managed properly, conflict can result in benefits for a team.


Below are the Q-A sessions in Rediff chat answered by Amit Bansal, the founder and CEO of PurpleLeap.

Krishna asked, Hi Amit , My question is how to handle subordinates who are reluctant to work inspite of good salary raises and being too greedy asking for appraisals twice in a year.
Amit Bansal answers, Delegation should help. If you don’t see them taking responsibility it is a good idea to give more work. That will justify their salary as well.

NARE asked, How do you change people with egoistic behavior? What we decide to do and what happens always puzzles our team? The outcome is totally different.Do you have a solution to address/resolve this issue?
Amit Bansal answers, Why don’t you suggest a team building intervention in your team? Make it like an outbound training program. I feel the team needs to come on the same page in terms of goals and expectations.

Kannan asked, Hi Amit, This is Kannan. I am in middle of a career confusion. I have around 7 years of experience in Peoplesoft CRM and currently working as a Product Manager for the past one year. Due some circumstances I need to change my job. Should I look for a job in Peoplesoft line as a Technical consultant or should I utilize my new Product Manager experience and look for jobs as a Product Manager. I am not sure which job description has future growth. Can you please advice how to proceed. Thanks Kannan
Amit Bansal answers, Kannan, you need to ask a few questions to yourself. Which profile do you enjoy more? Where do your strengths lie? Which profile motivates you to work better and achieve more?

alpha asked, I am not saying im am the best…but what if me being proficient…end up getting all the jobs and finally people who suppose to do…enjoy and my boss never understand this basic difference… In my team I dont tolerate any under performance but I do ensure that person is given ample Training & opportunity to prove himself..before i mark red.. But what if I confront my boss & who never understand this basics…shall I leave my job ..this is a major issue I am facing regular conflicts with my boss
Amit Bansal answers, Alpha, if you are intending that your entire team performs at the benchmark at which you perform that’s a slight over expectation. However i do agree with your point that training and opportunity to prove capability should be given to every individual.

sreedhar asked, How one can induce conflict in an organization if it said to be essential (Functional) and how one can resolve if it is moving towards disfunctional.
Amit Bansal answers, Sreedhar conflict is dysfunctional. However you can allow disagreements or difference of opinions. Manage different opinions through proper communication strategies and regular interaction and keep them focused towards a particular result you want to achieve. But manager it at the level of disagreement and not going to the point of conflict.

Abhi asked, My boss did not gave me increment and incentive , but i achived 80% of the target given , when i asked him why not he said as i was irregular due to my personal problem in my family life , i have thought to resign the from a company which does not see work and see my personal life to decide increment , what shoould i do ?
Amit Bansal answers, What does he mean when he says you are irregular? is he talking about attendance?

hari1 asked, in continution….. yeah I had a common & open discussion with my boss he understands all but he is unable to handle this guy. And he left all the things on me but as far as power/authorization comes I have a nothing to handle this guy, And above all this guy is like ‘be lagaam ghoda’. sometime I feels i should quit this job but this is not a solution he will be happy & I may loose lot of things.
Amit Bansal answers, Understand your point of view. Usually a good way would be to make this person in-charge of one project end to end. He will be responsible for the good and bad of what is happening in that particular work/ project. This way you can keep him occupied in one thing rather than interfering in other work and also if he is assigned a particular project he will not be able to shrug responsibility or blame others.

Rudra asked, Hi Amit, a team member gets the work done from someone and takes credit for that himself .. creating conflicts in team … how do I tackle this situation?
Amit Bansal answers, By documenting every work related communication. Usually if email communication is used effectively such issues can be easily tackled.

Rahul S asked, My Manager is not satisfied with anything I do. He is on-site does the mistake and then blames the team that they did not think about the solution beforehand. We are working on the technology that many peoples do not know and we have to do R&D in most of the cases. But he is not satisfied with the efforts and keep on saying that Hard Work is one thing and results in another. I am just lost and dont know how to handle this situation. I am planning to leave this job and look for another job. Please suggest.
Amit Bansal answers, Well Rahul.. i am sure in your organization you will have a skip level meeting as a part of your system. Why don’t you talk to your manager’s superiors and give them a heads up on the discontentment the team has? Or else I suggest try and keep your email communication very clear about every step you all take as a team. Because if a step is approved by the Manager over an email, it will be difficult for him to go against it.

Venkat asked, I feel it is not advisable to resolve every conflict within the team, because of this conflict(difference of opinions) only we get to see many new ideas generated that would help the team and the project. Is my thinking right?
Amit Bansal answers, Difference of opinion when not managed appropriately can lead to conflicts. If all members of the team communicate effectively about their different opinions I think you will be able to generate better ideas….and also reduce conflicts.

hari1 asked, Hell sir, we are two in a department reporting to same boss. my coolleague is very much egoist & doesnt want to co-operate, I tried my best but totally failed. He has never worked in a team being 2 post senior to him he is unable to digest me at work. Boss is also bounded due to his connections with top management. It has now become difficult to adjust with this arrogant selfish & egoist fellow, even we dont talk each other. He has skills to manipulate things & present, whereas I am straight forward & feels more responsible in any issues. Please guide, how to handle the situations & what to do in this worst environment.
Amit Bansal answers, Hari… have you spoken to your boss regarding this issue? Does he also feels the same way as you do? Sometimes we assume certain behavior patterns and work our communication strategy based on those assumptions. I suggest you have a clear discussion with your boss regarding this issue.

Mohit asked, I work for a advertising agency. My colleague says he can think creatively only if he is listening to loud metal music or if the room is filled with cigarate smoke, both the situations i find are not condusive to my concentration. I’ve tried telling him politely that he is disturbing my work environment, but this has not helped. Any idea how I can sort this out?
Amit Bansal answers, I think you need to escalate it to the HR.

Anandi asked, Amit, My manager, i think, has something against me. Every time I do some report he will ask me to rework on it and sometimes I feel like he has not even gone through the report I had sent. Someone else told me that he does not like women as his wife has left him. I’m left to wonder if this has anything to do with that. Should I speak to the higher up and ask them to see if it is possible to change my manager?
Amit Bansal answers, Well first you must talk to your manager. I think maybe he does not realize he’s probably doing more harm than good. If you don’t think you are given a ear to your complaint i suggest that’s when you should talk to the higher ups.

joe asked, How to reduce your conflict with your boss though you don’t like his management style?
Amit Bansal answers, Hi Joe…there is very little you can do about it. Maybe share your concerns about his styles with specific instances and offer your own idea which will help in managing better. I think a problem if talked along with a solution helps.

Suni asked, Hi Amit, I have a very sunny temperament and am usually slow to get angry. But there is this person in our office, who knows exactly how to rub me in the wrong directions. This has not helped me to concentrate on my job, and I’m constantly on edge because of this. I’m thinking of changing my job if this situation does not improve, but a friend of mine said that people like that will be found in every office. Do you have any tip on how I can deal with this?
Amit Bansal answers, Suni, would you be comfortable sharing a specific example? Most often talking to such a person is necessary. But if it’s not helping you can practice the art of ignorance. Yet if you share a specific instance I may be able to suggest something.

Ida asked, I work in a small organization. Here everyone seems to know others work. Sometimes it becomes embarassing when they make fun of my personal life. How can I politely ask them not to interfere?
Amit Bansal answers, I think you need to be assertive in asking them not to talk about your personal life. Sometimes polite cues are not understood well. In that case you should go ahead and use a firm dialogue.

shrikant asked, I do work in a MNC. Everytime you kick off a assignment, there are lot many times we always get into conflicts which hampers the work. Any smart way of overcoming this ?
Amit Bansal answers, During kick-offs the major reason for conflicts is communication gap between the various stakeholders. I think if that aspect is taken care of such conflicts can be avoided.

Adrian asked, Hi Amit, Is there any way of being cordial to all and not getting in anyone’s bad books?
Amit Bansal answers, Hi Adrian, its not always possible to keep everyone happy. But you can definitely be cordial with everyone at all times.


Chat date: 19 October 2011




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