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Managers could be the source of and solution to workplace conflict

Personal, everyday annoyance and irritation with colleagues and managers is common for many UK workers and is damaging motivation and productivity.

This is according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which found that almost two in five employees had experienced some kind of dispute, incident or conflict, or had an ongoing difficult relationship at work in the last year.

Interpersonal conflict was most likely to be 'borne of annoyance or frustration' because of difference in personality or style of working, and was found most commonly to be with supervisors rather than juniors.

Negative behaviour associated with conflict included 'lack of respect', bullying and verbal abuse.

Power dynamic

Conflict with superiors was considered to have the greatest impact in terms of demotivation, stress and loss of productivity. One in ten cases resulted in one or other party leaving their organisation or moving job, it said.

Pointing to an 'important power dynamic in conflict', the report said that conflict resolution skills were vital for line managers. One in five respondents said their line manager actively created conflict.

Interestingly, it found that organisations with fewer than ten employees were the best at dealing with conflict informally and more effectively.

Large, complex organisational structures and a reliance on formal procedures could impede swift resolution, but a 'balanced suite of options' including mediation, informal procedures, and open conversations could 'help nip potentially very damaging conflict in the bud', it said.

Acas publications and services


Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you build effective working relationships, explain how to use mediation in your workplace, and make it easier for you to resolve interpersonal conflict. See Disputes and mediation: how Acas can help for further information.

Skills for supervisors training and Staff retention will help you identify workplace relationship problems and nip them in the bud. Acas also offers training on Conflict management, Dispute resolution and Mediation.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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