3 Types of Group Conflicts Part 1


In this article, we will review 3 types of conflicts which arise in 70% of collectives. It is important to note that if these conflicts occur, there are no communications within the team.
So, first things first.
For years, we have been observing several problematic workgroups. These very workgroups have the same types of conflicts. They can be parallel, and some groups a certain type of conflict was the primary one and all the others were absent.
So, we have figured out these three types of conflicts:

  1. Interpersonal conflicts

  2. Association “against”

  3. Resistance to changes

Let’s look into details of each type of conflicts.

The first type of conflicts: an interpersonal conflict


An example:

Vincent Montgomery, the head of the sales department, is complaining that employees are constantly addressing him because of various conflicts:

“They can’t resolve anything by themselves like small kids. I constantly have to deal with their conflicts and decide what to do. The last conflict just threw me off. Our department moved into a new office. Large and spacious. New rooms. We were not sitting all in one room as it fashionable now. We had several directions and many calls must be made. Working together the employees disturbed each other. Besides, the directions were not interconnected. So, in one of the offices, the employees quarrelled about where their tables must stand. Both wanted their table at the window and there was no way to solve this problem for them. Edward came up to me and asked me to persuade his colleague not to claim Edward’s place. The colleague had been recently hired but Edward was a successful seller who had been working for our company for several years. I did as he asked. I called his colleague Russell and asked to put the table in another place. Russell was offended and said that we didn’t value new employees. That the old employees always got the best. And if it went on like that he would go to another department. Russell was a promising employee. I listened to him, called Edward and asked him to make a concession for Russell. But he also sulked and said that I didn’t value experienced employees who had been working with the company for years. All in all, lots of nonsense. They quarrelled even more and I turned out to be the one to blame. What should I do?”

This is a quite common situation when several employees involve their manager in the conflict. And if the manager allows them to do it, the situation gets worse and the conflict doesn’t resolve.

What should we advise Vincent in this and similar cases? They happen a lot in the workflow.

How to resolve:

There is a step-by-step technology for resolving such conflicts:

  1. Bring all parties of the conflict together. Do not talk to each employee in private. It is an important point! When you talk to employees in private, you see the situation through the eyes of each one in turn. You don’t see the conflict on the whole. Each employee describes the situation to his or her benefit and tries to get you on his or her side. The more you listen to each one separately, the larger the distance between them. If only one employee addressed you about the conflict, stop him or her and ask to invite the other one for a talk. Or call him or her yourself.

  2. When all the parties to the conflict will be together, they will probably be still boiling with emotions and they will quarrel with one another, react emotionally to one another’s words. Do not allow emotional outbursts in your presence. Stop them and suggest to cool down or express their emotions outside your office. It is very important that the employees treat you with respect and don’t allow themselves to insult one another in your presence.

  3. Find out the root of the conflict. Ask them to tell what has happened. However, do not allow “getting personal”. The employees must tell what has happened without any emotions and to the point. This method will help them to have a clear look at the situation from another point.

  4. Ask them how they plan to resolve the conflict. At the same time remind them about their goals in the company and how their conflict affects the work of the department and the company on the whole. Let them make their suggestions based on more important goals which include the cooperation of the whole staff.

  5. Let the employees decide on the way to resolve the conflict. In no way should you make a decision for them! As soon as you begin choosing the way out of the conflict, you will bear the full responsibility for resolving it, not your employees.

  6. If the employees are not ready to present and decide on the ways to resolve the conflict, give them some time to think them over and appoint another meeting. Emphasize that they have to learn to resolve conflicts by themselves and you will not do it for them. However, you will come to certain conclusions about their contribution to the work of the company.

  7. When the employees decide on the way to resolve the conflict, take some preventative measures. It is important that such a conflict will not arise in future. To do so, ask them a question - what needs to be done so that similar conflicts will not reoccur. And be sure to get precise answers from your employees.

  8. Ask the employees to resolve the conflict routinely and tell you later how they have done it. Show them that all the responsibility for resolution of the conflict is theirs but you control the process.

Such a way of resolving conflicts will release you from responsibility for the employees’ behaviour and in time you will notice that employees became more independent and there are fewer conflicts among the staff.