The reasons behind conflicts are rarely black and white, and it’s unlikely that just one person is to blame. But figuring out the cause is essential so you can determine how to address the problem positively and prevent it from happening again.
Common causes of conflict at work include:
Differences in personality – people come from different backgrounds or cultures and have their own beliefs and values. A lack of understanding or acceptance of these differences is an easy source of contention, and drives a wedge between people who may otherwise work very well together.
Differences in styles of working – when people expect others to work the same way as them and don’t respect the fact that everyone works differently, it creates frustration and hinders the completion of projects and tasks.
Miscommunication or misunderstandings – it’s easy for conflicts to become deep-seated when a misunderstanding remains unsolved for a prolonged period of time, and ongoing miscommunication muddles the progress of projects.
Availability of resources – employees might not feel confident asking for resources without being told that they can, making them frustrated at superiors. People who don’t need as much support as others may feel annoyed at people they think are ‘holding them back’.
Level of support – people struggle to complete their job role if they aren’t given technical support. Following highly stressful situations – such as a confrontation – they’ll feel worse if they aren’t able to receive emotional or moral support, and will feel like the workplace doesn’t care about their wellbeing. This creates animosity.
Poor customer service – staff need to know how to deal with queries and complaints in a way that leaves customers feeling satisfied. Otherwise, people won’t return and could harm the business’ reputation through word-of-mouth.
Poorly-organised workplace – your workplace’s design makes a huge difference to people’s behaviour and comfort, but people are more likely to target frustration at a person than the space itself.
Poor management – you have a tremendous amount of influence on how contented and able a person feels in their role. Without a strong leader, people lack direction and goals and therefore motivation, which leads to dissatisfaction and bitterness towards management.
Discrimination, harassment, etc. – treating others unkindly due to their beliefs, disabilities, and other qualities is illegal and no workplace should tolerate it. It is debilitating for the person being subjected to the abuse, and can lead to serious ongoing conflicts that are difficult and expensive to resolve and reflect badly on your business.
Contract of employment – if people are left in the dark about their role or don’t feel like it’s valued or accommodated, they feel angry at management and potentially any colleagues who are well-accommodated.