Conflict at work

2018 February 20

  Author: Karaoulanis Andreas, Business Development manager, Sales expert, Financial advisor/ manager,international team manager

After more than 25 years in several industries, I know that sometimes you can’t choose your colleagues. I mean, the manager may have the luxury to choose them, but the employee don’t. So, it happens sometimes to find yourself in a difficult position and even to start or be a part of a conflict at work.

Conflict at work is a very difficult and dangerous thing. But reality says that is something that happens all the time. The question is, “can we avoid it? My answer is yes and no. And I explain.

Yes, because I don’t like fighting. I don’t believe that problems can be solved via the fighting path. There must, and surely are, more civilized ways to solve a problem.

But this is not the reality. The everyday reality says that when adrenaline is all over your body and pressure is high, when even millions are at stake in just seconds, bad reactions can happen. And this is where the no goes. Working in a stressful environment can drug you to bad reactions sometimes, especially when things are tight.

But this is the only reason why bad reactions can spring? No, there are several other reasons which can lead someone to such reactions. For example, a difficult day at home, where you had a quarrel with your wife. Usually people can’t leave 100% their emotions when coming to work, or when getting back home. Starting your day in a bad mood with a lot of things, almost all of them bad, can increase your stress levels and lead you to a bad reaction which can create a conflict. 
It is well known that all work places are not the same. There are businesses which have awesome working environments which usually springs from a great culture, while others don’t have such conditions. When the environment is not proper, conflicts can rise anytime, from trivial, usually, causation. What happens if you feeling that your job is not fair with you? What happens if you try so hard every day while you get no credit and not only that, but the other guys around, and especially the “favorite” ones, gets all the rewards and promotions? Such a working environment can create bad feelings and a cumulative anger which one day eventually will come at the open.

Generally speaking, there are so many reasons that a conflict at work can start. I believe that is something almost inevitable. But, okay, the conflict started. What happens next? This is even more complicated than why the conflict started. 
There are several ways to handle a conflict. It depends on many reasons. For example, there are different ways to handle it if you are a manager or an employee, if you are involved or not and if was a big scale one or just a unique small incident. All of these sub categories involved have one parameter which is common, and this is that the team must survive from the conflict. No matter who is going to handle it and no matter the scale or if you are involved or not, after the conflict the team must operate the same as before it.

I know that many of you will tell me “how this is possible?” My answer is and will always be “it must be possible, because there is no alternative”. Working in a place is not something which we do for fun. I mean we are not 5-10 guys passing our time because we do not have something better to do. Is business, with everything that this word may include. So, our primary objective should be to protect our job, to protect our team.

So, here are some tips about how to avoid or handle the conflict and how to save the team afterwards:

  • Be calm
  • Leave your problems out of your workplace
  • Don’t involve in another guy’s conflict
  • If it happens, try to solve it asap
  • If you can’t try to take the involved parts out of the work place and try to calm them down
  • Don’t let your team to split in “enemy” parts supporting one of the conflict parts
  • Try to calm down things, first by talking separately or together to the guys involved and if this will not have the desired result, then gather the team and try to have a honest conversation with everybody
  • If the team is compromised due to the conflict, consider to let the conflict parts go.

In whole my life I was a proactive guy. This is why I strongly believe that the best way to solve a conflict is to eliminate, if possible, the chances to happen. This can happen by establishing a great work place. A great culture in your job, while, if you are the manager, you should select the right guys. And by the term right, I don’t mean the most qualified. I mean people who are qualified for the job, but who also have good work- life balance and who are good characters and team players. Finally, your efforts shouldn’t stop there. You need to watch your team closely every single day in order to be able to understand what’s happening and when something tends to get out of hand. Of course all that depend on the nature of the job and the size of the team. 
I never said that it is easy…….