Conflict @ Workplace

Conflicts at the workplace is a reality that we all need to deal with. For a lot of us, the conflict at the workplace can be nerve racking. That’s because our place of work is a means of livelihood. While conflict affects both entrepreneurs & employees, later are generally at peril in conflicts.

In my experience, I have experienced many different conflicts between fellow team members, manager subordinates, leaders across departments etc. I mention the reason for such conflicts. I hope it helps someone to be aware and resolve.


Each one of us is different. Our aspirations, goals and hence perceptions of work is different. Work may be “everything” to one person, while it is “necessary evil” to another, and just one aspect of life to some other. This can bring conflict between people, because some push themselves to achieve more, while some want to “get-by”. The key is to understand the personalities and deal accordingly. A lack of such understanding, and passing judgements, results in workplace conflicts.  

Common sense

Needless to say “common-ness” to Common sense is rare. You and I could be on very different planes for a given thought. It is important for the perceived “smart ones” to be accommodating. Anybody who has been a leader knows that the entire troupe does not come with the same intellect and understanding. A choice to not be accommodative and continually pointing at “common sense issues” leads to workplace conflicts.


This is more applicable to manager-subordinate relationships, but it can be found in all. All of us get hired to solve a set of problems. Managers / Leaders have certain expectations, even if they aren’t able to express them. For subordinates, it’s critical to make an effort to understand. As Managers, we also need to be crystal about expectations. An unspoken word in such cases leads to workplace conflict. 


God made all of us unique. We make a mistake when we think a certain person does not “think / do / speak” in how I would have done. Well, they won’t, ‘coz they aren’t you. There is a need to be aware of such differences while dealing with others, and be accommodative. An act to fail in that leads to workplace conflict. 


Hiring, no matter how thorough, isn’t a fool proof solution to pick the right candidate for the right job. A lot of people are in careers they aren’t made for. Consequently, they fall short. There needs to be a sense of awareness in colleagues about it, and align their expectations accordingly. An intent to not do that leads to workplace conflict. 


Ambitious people are a great asset to the company, but not so much for teams. There are times when they see fellow workers as a deterrent to their ambitions. I worked with a talented sales guy who was a pain in neck for almost everyone because of his “ambitious pace”. 


Another point which though rarely (but do) becomes a bone of contention is about “New kid in town”. Wherever we go, there will always be people, who have been there before us. A combination of insecurity and “what does he know” mentality takes over the current team members. If the new kid fails to make the right emotional investments, it leads to workplace conflicts.


This one is more about owner and senior executives in the company. Owners, though claim to side step, never actually do that. It is difficult for them to see something that they (or their family) built and nurtured, to be out of their perceived control. This has been seen recently between owners and senior execs in the country's leading companies. I saw this first hand in startup experiences where I would work as second to owner / promoter / ceo. There was uneasiness on owners’ part in enabling enough. It is important to understand this psyche, and never let “bosses” think that they are losing control. A failure to balance this leads to workplace conflicts. 


As long as there are groups of people, there will be conflicts. Hence, they can't be completely ruled out, but they can be managed. I hope this article has given you insight to manage it better.


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