Most of us spend a large portion of our waking hours at work, so the quality of our working environment and relationships has a significant impact on our wellbeing. In any workplace there will be many different experiences and perspectives: we each see the world in a different way. This means we react in our own way to situations at work, which will affect the relationships we have with those around us. This diversity of experience and thinking is a good thing, but it can sometimes lead to misunderstanding and conflict between people. Some conflict can be positive, such as a healthy amount of competition between team members to reach goals. But negative conflict, like bullying or personality clashes, can harm individuals and undermine teamworking. 

As a manager, you need to be at the forefront when workplace conflict occurs. If you don’t tackle this conflict head on at an early stage, it’s likely to escalate. Our report, Managing Conflict in the Modern Workplace, also reveals that managers themselves can often be the cause of conflict. It is therefore essential you reflect on your own management style and the impact your behaviour has on others. 

This guide will help you proactively identify and manage conflict at work. It covers the people management skills you need to become part of the solution to resolving workplace conflict – not the problem. It focuses on how to handle workplace conflict at an early, informal stage – before issues escalate into serious disputes that require the use of formal procedures.

What does workplace conflict look like?

The first defence: prevention is better than cure

Using performance management to prevent workplace conflict

Encouraging informal ways to resolve workplace conflict

The last resort: using formal procedures to resolve workplace conflict

Key takeaways

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