Managing Workplace Conflict: The Complete Guide

Conflict is inevitable, even in the most ideal work environment. In fact, it is far more common than most managers realize and can have a detrimental effect on team building and productivity within the business.

Understanding how to manage workplace conflict is vital for every manager. Read on as we discuss the best practices for preventing conflict in the workplace and for handling it when it occurs.

Best Practices for Managing Workplace Conflict

Preventing workplace conflicts must always be a priority. Start by fostering a workplace culture that is supportive, collaborative, and friendly. You can equip your employees to prevent conflicts through team-building exercises and communication training. This training may also help your employees in other work areas, such as resolving conflict with difficult customers.

Your policies and procedures regarding conflict resolution should be clearly set so that all employees understand what behavior is allowed and how issues between co-workers will be handled. If you do not have a policy in place yet, these steps are a great place to start.

Steps to take to manage workplace conflict:

  1. Determine the cause of the conflict. Conflicts may be caused by cultural differences, differences in morals, beliefs, or opinions, as well as failures in communication. Ignorance and poor behavior may be extreme reasons for conflicts.
  2. Hear from all involved, and do not take sides. This means talking to those directly involved and to employees outside of the conflict to get the full picture. This helps you to treat the employees involved fairly and equitably and demonstrates to other employees how future conflicts may be handled.
  3. Collaborate on a solution to the conflict. Brainstorm a solution with the parties, ensuring they feel valued in the process and that their voices are heard.
  4. Mutual resolution. Have both parties agree on the resolution, and the next steps are taken. Ensure the solution is beneficial for all and provide guidelines and resources for reference in future conflicts. Be careful with penalties. The punitive action may be necessary, but it can inadvertently lead to bad feelings and more conflict.
  5. Close the conflict properly. Have the parties involved apologize to each other and thank each other for reaching a mutual resolution to the conflict.


Conflict in the workplace is an issue all managers must confront. Understanding what causes conflicts, how to avoid them, and how to handle them when they occur will help your company foster a positive culture and increase job satisfaction and productivity across the board.

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