Recognising Conflict in the Workplace

With Dr Barrie Kennard

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Recognising Conflict in the Workplace


Conflict within a team can cause much disruption. Let Barrie show you how to identify early signs of potential conflict by carrying out this simple exercise. It's a great 2 min insight that'll help any new manager spot the triggers and signs early on. 

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Recognising Conflict in the Workplace

Stopping conflict before it becomes an issue is surely the most satisfying action. So how do we recognise the signs, and what are they?

The key is simple really, it is all about knowing your team, it isn’t enough to know their names and their backgrounds.  You must actually get to know them, what makes them tick, what are their likes and dislikes and this is the they display that they are not happy, these are called ‘tells’ and they are vitally important. Equally important are any ‘triggers’ that you notice, these are the things that seem to upset or antagonise your team. This is time consuming and intricate, it also means that you will have to interact with each individual to a depth that you may not be entirely comfortable with.

After all you probably don’t like everyone in your team to the same extent indeed there may be some that you actually don’t like much but they are a member of your team and no one ever said that you will only manage people you like,  I will let you into a secret -  some of them might not like you much either.

However the best managers put personal likes and dislikes to one side and get the best out of every member of their team by managing each person to the best of their ability.

So task 1 is to list your team and put down everything you know about their ‘tells’ and ‘triggers’ be as detailed as you can and do not move on to the next task until you are satisfied that you have put everything down.

Just by writing this list out you will have started to ‘know’ your team better. Now that you know how their ‘tells’ and triggers you can watch for the first signs and deal with them early.  There is no magic formula for this, I have always found that simply asking ‘What’s up?’ has been tremendously effective. Of course you don’t ask in front of anyone else and timing is important as you have to have the time to have a conversation if needed.

By understanding what can be the start of conflict you can also identify if the conflict is being manufactured by another person, if that is the case then a word in private that shows you are aware of what is happening is usually enough to put a stop to it.

This insight video is part of the Managing Conflict in the Workplace course