November 25, 2019

Managing conflict in the workplace

Conflict is part of life, whether it be personal, professional or in the business world. Each individual in the workforce has his or her own thought processes and ways of acting. At the same time, everyone in the workforce needs to collectively dedicate their time to productivity and making sure goals and deadlines are met. So, if conflicts aren’t handled effectively, they can alienate your co-workers, reducing their creativity and productivity.

Keeping your team united while at the same time ensuring people have the liberty to express their views helps improve the company’s morale as well. As a leader you must create a positive culture, find common ground and make sure your team members have time to reflect on their courses of action.


Create a cordial culture

Have you ever felt insecure because your team members didn’t appreciate you or disregarded your opinions and feelings? During such times, it really helps to seek out a mentor, someone you can share things with without judgement. That person could possibly be your boss or someone you respect as a leader who sees things from different perspectives and can assess the situation as a whole.

As a leader, you are your employees’ anchor of strength; they look up to you for stability and reassurance. Reminding them that they all play an important role in the organisation and are of value motivates them to deliver their best. A cordial culture free of conflict improves the way employees interact with their peers, with a positive impact on how an organisation functions.

Likewise, appreciating top performers for their good work and letting them feel as if they are essential to the company encourages them to deliver even better results because they feel they are needed. For those whose performance may not be up to par, motivate them to up their game. Help them to find their drive to strive for excellence by working together.

Find common ground

Each team member in your department or company shares something in common with you, whether it be personality traits, life experiences, similar background or culture. At the end of the day, there should be a shared passion between yourself and your co-workers about your organisation’s mission, vision and values.

There are always going to be times when some individuals are filled with rage and feelings need to be dealt with. Leaders must know how to redirect the focus away from the tension.

An opportunity exists for leaders to turn times of conflict into brainstorming sessions to resolve the situation, where all questions, comments and concerns are welcomed, and then tackling the causes accordingly. This will help remind everyone that they are in this together, encouraging them to push through the hurdles and move past the conflicts. Addressing issues in this manner also offers opportunities to cultivate goodwill, creating more understanding and trust.

Make time to reflect

When conflicts break out, it is important to discover why. Without reflecting on why things went downhill, there will be no learning from the mistakes that were made. In order to capture new knowledge, learn and improve, reflection must take place.

Regular reflection also encourages employees to open up about their problems and successes, boosting team spirit. Some may feel that having “afterthoughts” is unnecessary or even impossible due to the lack of shared experiences. But unless people open up, how will we know where they stand?

In some cases of conflict, behaviour can be passive aggressive; in other words, one party can be avoiding direct confrontation. But brushing off the problem might only make it worse and block paths to a solution. This is where leaders need to jump in and discover a better way to move forward as well as implement any changes that need to be made. That way, innovation can thrive amid strengthening of relationships, leading to more effective decisions.

Team building activities, featuring a warm and welcoming environment, can work wonders. Breaking the ice between one another and encouraging growth along with fruitful behaviour is the way to go. Overcoming obstructions in an organisation with the right approach from leaders will generate the productivity and cooperation needed to achieve closer bonding.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at