Conflict resolution.


Byline: Parvez Rahim

CONFLICTS among colleagues are bound to arise in any work environment for a variety of reasons. These may include how work assignments are distributed, differences of opinion in how work-related issues are handled, colleagues asserting superiority over each other, clashes of personalities, etc.

Disagreements between people and groups arise in all walks of life, and the dynamics are often similar, but if workplace conflicts are not addressed in a timely fashion they can escalate into issues that significantly hinder the smooth functioning of work. Therefore, department heads should not shirk their responsibility of effectively resolving disagreements between their employees. At times, a head may have to assert their authority to put quarrels to rest, if they believe there is no just cause for the interpersonal conflict.

In one company that I worked in, the heads of two departments were constantly at loggerheads with each other. Both would CC their email exchanges to the head they directly reported to. Fed up with them wasting time over useless confrontations, their boss called them both into his office and firmly demanded that they cease this behaviour. They were told to return to his office in an hour's time, either as friendly colleagues or with resignation letters in hand. Unsurprisingly, they chose the former.

In handling this conflict, the superior had to adopt a coercive approach, as he believed that neither had any real cause for fighting with the other, and that both should have been acting as role models for their respective departments. In most cases, though, heads will have to figure out the underlying cause of the conflict in order to devise an effective solution.

Properly addressing work disputes is key to effective management.

For the most part, issues between two employees may be easy to resolve since it is usually one of them who is not performing according to expectations of their duties. Then there may be times when both are partially at fault, making the task of the mediator a bit more difficult as they will have to find a remedy acceptable to both parties.

Settling collective conflicts between workers and employees, however, will require more management time, planning and strategy. The process by which the representative union of workers the collective bargaining agent (CBA) demands improvement in the terms and conditions of their employment is called 'raising of industrial dispute' under the law...

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