Are you Conflict Savvy?

Are you conflict savvy? by Claire Rowe

It is inevitable that we will all encounter situations of conflict in the workplace.

Defined as a situation where your concerns or desires differ from those of another person, conflict can arise interpersonally, between teams, within an organisation or between organisations themselves.

The cost of conflict can be realised in a number of different ways including reduction in productivity, absenteeism and/or stress, grievances, reputational damage and in more severe cases, possible claims against the employer.  Add to this management time, absence cover and possible legal fees and ask yourself can you afford not to be conflict savvy?

In the early stages of conflict where opinion starts to harden and a polarisation of views is apparent, a key message is not to put your head in the sand.  Communication at this stage is vital.

As a conflict situation progresses one or both parties may begin to fear loss of face and so implement strategies of threat, resulting in more formal tools being required.  At this stage, good grievance and/or disciplinary policies can be vital, as can effective mediation.  However, to quote an analogy from a recent CIPD seminar that Agile attended, “mediation is a bit like lancing a boil – you are still left with a mess afterwards!”

At this point, psychometrics or personality profiling can really come into their own. When faced with a competitive individual with a ‘my way or the highway’ mindset versus an avoiding individual who would rather deal with it tomorrow, reaching a situation of collaboration can prove difficult for even the most accomplished of mediators. Obtaining an overview of an individual’s level of assertiveness and co-operation amongst other things generates a much clearer picture of their conflict style and consequently allows for far more effective situation management.

Conflict in the workplace is endemic and failing to be conflict savvy could be damaging to more than just the profit line.  Take a moment to review what tools you have in place now to get on the front foot and avoid situations escalating unnecessarily when they arise.


Agile HR Consulting can assist with the development or review of disciplinary and grievance procedures as well as personality profiling. For more information contact


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