Author, Coach, Educator, & Realtor

 What causes conflict in the workplace ?


Today’s employees are fearful of their positions. They know companies are not making the necessary returns to expand and possibly can not maintain current levels of employment. Fear lends itself to conflict. ” Why are you more valuable than me?”  Competing for attention rather than teamwork may be a result.


Some employees need more recognition than others. If someone in particular gets more than the rest of the team because they are more apt to tout the teams results and take them as their own resentment and conflict build.


Other employees simply do not understand the goals and as a result miss the mark no matter how hard they work. They do not understand why others are more successful and become agitated. They are not as likely to work with others and become critical of leadership.


Yet  other employees have never been a member of a team. They do not have the experience that provides the desire to be part of a team. They are used to working alone and do not see the value of combined results. They become outsiders which can result in conflict.


Employees who are self-absorbed can usually not be a member of a team. They create conflict by not seeing the needs of others personally or professionally. These are the people who “stir the pot” in an organization and everyone knows who they are. They criticize anything and everything that does not focus on them. Nothing you do will change their attitude. If you feel you need their expertise they need to report directly to the leader with no interaction with others; better yet as independent contractors. Most likely the only way to resolve the conflict and tension they bring to an organization is to let them become self-employed.

How do you resolve these conflicts ?

Eliminate the FEAR. Do not sit behind closed doors and decide the future of the company. Do not keep financial information proprietary to the extent no one knows anything but you — what people imagine is always worse than what is real.

Do ask employees to assist in your success and expansion. Ask them what the Company does best and how that can be capitalized on. Ask them where they think the challenges lie and what the solution would be.

Train employees on financial information.

What does our product or service cost ? Sales price minus cost is Gross Profit. What does Gross Profit pay for?  What is Overhead?  Gross Profit minus Overhead is Net Profit. What does Net Profit pay for (reinvestment in resources, growth, profit-sharing, etc.)?

Knowing how to help the Company financially creates an appreciation for all the members working together for the “profit” of all.

RECOGNITION is really very simple but very, very important. Recognize everyone regularly for their individual work and their team efforts. We all know recognition and job satisfaction are the keys to happy employees. But it must be done for every employee in every position and relevent to their work performance.

Positive Memo’s; Announcements; Rewards big and little are the keys to a cohesive workforce.

Clearly COMMUNICATE the short-term and long terms goals and vision of the Organization. Easy to say and hard to do. I would always think I was “clear” but there are telltale signs if you are not. If you are not immediately getting the results desired you were not “clear”. Time for a do over. Ask the employees what they heard you say. Ask them for examples of what the result would look like. Give them examples of the desired result and give them a means of measuring it daily. Employees need to hear the vision over and over you can not just say it and think it has made it so —- Repeat —- Repeat — Repeat.

Also actions speak louder than words. Employees must see that the leader is making decisions based on the goals and objectives that have been set and in line with the Vision.

TEAM ATTITUDE can be trained. Start slow — team the employee with one other person for a specific assignment and hopefully let them experience a better result than they may have had on their own —- “two heads are better than one.”  As they get more comfortable include them in larger groups with broader goals.

Ideally in any Company the ultimate success is that each individual understands they are an integral part of the team as a whole and conflict is replaced with constructive problem solving with the best possible results.


Next post we will discuss the dreaded employee evaluation.

Comments on: "How to Change Conflict into Teamwork: 5 Causes and Solutions" (2)

  1. Great comments.
    Any helpful hints on how to overcome staff’s perceived “pet’ staff member.
    Some one who is perceived to have the ear of management and/or a personal relationship with management.

  2. Relationships in business are always a challenge. I can remember in ” the old days ” when they were forbidden. It was an easy solution — eliminate the potential problems.

    The reality is someone you have a relationship with is someone you trust. Trust is a major factor in quality communication and teamwork.

    This applies to both relatives and friends working together with one being the leader and the other not in management.

    Other employees perceive this person as separate and untrustworthy because they are on your side not theirs.

    What to do ?

    You may have two options:

    Give them their own leadership role where they are required to work as a team separate from you. The team will embrace the perception they have an edge through their leader.


    In some cases this individual may not have any leadership skills and likes the role they already enjoy. In this case you need to clearly define their role as a resource for the Business and for you.. Then identify a real team leader who has the authority to report directly to you on the goals and objectives of the group.

    If your ” pet ” does not understand this is in the best interest of the Business they are not as good a resource as you have perceived.

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