Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » How and When to Manage Conflict
How and When to Manage Conflict

How and When to Manage Conflict

While coworkers of varied backgrounds certainly can and do work together, it's inevitable that at some point a manager will see conflict between employees. Knowing when to step in and take charge before things escalate from a minor issue to a major problem can be key to finding resolution. Get advice from managers like you on how to get involved at the right time.

Be Prepared to Manage Conflict

Kyle Krzmarzick, branch manager of Technisource, an IT and engineering staffing and project solutions company, says managers should be prepared for conflict at some point -- no matter how well-run an organization is or how happy its employees are.

"In a competitive environment filled with competitive coworkers, people don't always see eye-to eye," says Krzmarzick. "Although (your employees) don't need to be friends with everyone in your office, we all know there is a business to run and a job to do."

Krzmarzick says there is nothing wrong with holding your coworkers accountable and challenging them to work out problems themselves. "I will generally allow people to work out conflicts and disagreements on their own, in private," he says. "This eliminates the ‘tattletale' and ‘he said-she said.' If it gets hurtful or is done in front of others, I'd step in."

When Should You Get Involved?

The decision of when -- and if -- to get involved in coworker conflict is crucial. Stepping in too early can cause conflict to escalate, because the employees may have considered it a nonissue. Stepping in too late can be, well, too late. The damage is done, and the two sides may not be able to work cohesively again. Even worse, the employees may leave the company.

A manager should get involved the minute he sees the conflict compromising the team's productivity, integrity and morale says Pamela Holland, author of Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? and chief operating officer for Brody Communications, which develops and delivers communication skills courses for Fortune 500 technology, pharmaceutical and financial organizations.

Paula Rue, a 15-year veteran of human resources management who is currently vice president and senior career coach with career management and development company Career Services International, agrees. "If the (employees) confide in you and ask for your advice, it would be appropriate to step in," she adds. "It may be their way of asking for help without asking directly."

How to Manage Conflict

When conflict inevitably develops, the manager should initiate a discussion with the parties involved. But watch your approach. "Most often, things like this should be done behind closed doors, not in front of others in the office, and never behind someone's back," Krzmarzick says. "I would either mediate the discussion altogether or ask the discussion to take place in private. If the two people can't resolve it behind closed doors, I'll help resolve it."

If you're involved in the meeting, Holland says managers should bring the employees together to:

  • Discuss how their behavior toward one another is impacting the group in specific terms.

  • Explain how the manager is willing to support both parties in resolving the issue.

  • Facilitate a productive discussion that surfaces the issues or factors underlying the conflict.

When you do see conflict, step back and try to visualize the process leading up to the problem. Ask why this may have developed, and be as objective as possible. "Look at the behaviors involved -- try not to immerse yourself in the personalities or fall prey to your own personal biases," advises Holland.

Managers themselves should be a model for direct, immediate, diplomatic and open communication. If employees see you taking a sniping, passive/aggressive or bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach in conflict with others, they are more likely to follow suit when dealing with their own conflicts.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help. "Managers should seek out the advice of one or two selected peers whom they both admire and trust," says Holland. "Getting someone with an outside perspective to weigh in or to contribute observations not made by the manager can be extremely beneficial."

Latest Jobs

Hudson Valley Safety Associates
Posted: 05/24/2015
Pine Bush, NY, 12566
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 05/24/2015
New York, NY, 10017
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 05/24/2015
New York, NY, 10017
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 05/24/2015
Deerfield, IL, 60015
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 05/24/2015
Deerfield, IL, 60015

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-312