People who work in close proximity have a dual conflict-management challenge: Their role functions are interdependent, and their personalities are in direct, intense, daily contact. As a result, office managers are often confused about whether conflicts between workers are a result of inadequate organizational structure (e.g., job descriptions) or of "personality clashes."
Fortunately, office managers and supervisors can use simple conflict management tools to address both sources of conflict at the same time, without having to parse the particular underlying causes of the conflict. As a result, the costs* of employee turnover and other consequences of mismanaged conflict are reduced.
The Track 2 option is recommended for office managers and other supervisory personnel. The Track 2a option may be preferred by technical, administrative, and other nonsupervisory employees. The Track 3 option is recommended for human resource professionals and other support staff.
Follow links in the "Conference Info" panel to the left for program details. Print this one-page flyer
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Edited by Kristin Evans. See other bibliographies.
Contributors: Rose Orsini,
Atul Ashtekar, Sandeep Bhatnager, Phonsavanne Sithiphon, Jennifer Lostowski, Suresh Dhandapani, Luca Iacusso
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- Adkins, Ben. The secret word for workplace relations is R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Fort
Worth Business Press; 7/25/05, Vol. 18 Issue 30, p.38
The article offers tips on improving workplace relationships. The author focuses
on your own behaviors as we can't force other people to get along to have a
significant impact in the workplace. The three tips he offered are: (1) Development
of a positive attitude, (2) Ways to avoid miscommunication and (3) Benefits
of developing an action plan to resolve conflicts.
- Adkins, Ben. (2005) Workplace conflict affects productivity. Fort Worth Business
Press; Vol. 18 Issue 8, p47.
The article discusses the impact of workplace conflict on productivity and
profitability of a company. The three topics such as amount of business loss
due to unmanaged conflict; importance of an evaluation of conflict management
abilities to a company; signs of unresolved workplace conflict are discuss
in the article. It also goes through three ways to eliminate the negative consequences
of workplace conflict.
- Allen, S. J. (1999, September). Tactics for success. Communication World,
16, 34, 4.
The article talks about how communication skills are an important aspect in
the negotiation process, gaining recommendations for success and managing emotions
during conflict to be successful as an executive. It further talks about the
simple tactics to be used in the negotiation process especially for the communication
mangers who are skeptical about their own communication skills.
- Arnold, J., Jay, C., & Rhoades, J. (2001). The role of
affective traits and affective state in disputants' motivation and behavior
during episodes of organizational conflict. Journal of Organizational Behavior, (Volume 22, Issue 3; pp 329).
This study investigated the effects of individuals' affective traits and affective states on their motivations and behavior during episodes of organizational conflict. Two hundred and twenty-three student employees kept daily records of their conflict experiences at work. The results of the hierarchical linear modeling indicated that employees' affective traits and affective states had parallel effects on the conflict management process.
- Bahl, T. (1999, September). The workplace bullies. Business
The article talks about the workplace harassment (bullying)
in the corporate world where an informal survey revealed
that it commensurate with the perpetrator's qualification,
training, experience and affluence. It is no different than
the tactics of the neighborhood bully even though it takes
different names, bullying is behind all forms of harassment,
discrimination, prejudice, abuse, persecution, conflict and
violence. The article further states the combination of pressure
bullying and corporate bullying, by citing out an example.
Nine out of 10 cases of victimizing behavior or workplace
bullying results in forced resignation, increased sickness
absence, low productivity, exclusion from productive duties,
low morale, high staff turnover and in rare cases, expensive
legal costs. The victim gives up to the intention of the
bully which leads to huge organizational cost.
- Blackard, Kirk. (Feb-Apr 2001). Assessing workplace conflict resolution options. Dispute Resolution Journal.
This article explores various alternative dispute resolution approaches, aimed toward three levels of conflict severity and need for intervention. The author recommends that managers weigh the costs and benefits when selecting a technique. Benefits and costs are illustrated and identified through diagnostic questions to aid management in the decision of individual consideration.
- Campbell, B. (2002) Has Your Workplace Become a Battlefield? Conflict Could Be a Catalyst for Innovation. Black Enterprise.
An American Management Association (AMA) study reveals that employees spend some 25% of their work hours in dispute but conflict is good if you recognize its inherent creative potential.
- Clark, Margaret M. (Jan 2004). A jury of their peers: giving employees a say in resolving each other's workplace disputes can pay big cultural dividends - Employee Relations. HR Magazine.
The possible results of creating an employee conflict resolution process are presented. The author advises that the concept of peer review needs to be in place in the organization's culture for this approach to be effective. Kodak surveyed its employees for volunteers and created a process, which is illustrated in the article.
- Clark, S. (June 2004) Strong Ethics Help Resolve Workplace Conflict. Business Journal.
This articles states that A strong foundation of business ethics is an appropriate tool to make the best business decisions. Likewise, a strong foundation of personal ethics is an appropriate tool for resolving business conflict. The article outlines ways to making the extra effort to achieve a win-win resolution usually results in renewed respect and cooperation between both parties.
- Cloke, K, & Goldsmith, J. (2001) Conflicts at work:
A complete guide for everyone on the job. San Francisco:
This book focuses on ways to actually resolve conflicts
as opposed to simply settling disputes. The authors believe
that conflict is a way to transform the company and grow
if it is dealt with in a healthy way. To do so the individuals
involved need to get to the root of the problem and find
a permanent solution instead of just settling or agreeing
- Conlon, D.
E., & Ross, W. H. (1997). Appearances do count: The
effects of outcomes and explanations on disputant fairness judgments
and supervisory evaluations. International Journal of Conflict Management,
8, 5, 27.
The article talks about how disagreement on policy issues between
managers in organization can create conflict. At times to resolve
issues between mangers supervisors impose decisions. In situation
such as these the result should be fare and the outcome should provide
the same pay off to both the parties. The author also emphasizes
to consider the social and structural aspect of dispute resolution
which is imperative in the fairness of the judgment.
- Davies, Kent R. (June 2004). Peace talks: workplace conflict will impact your business if you don't know how to deal with it. Dealernews.
This article describes the consequences of conflict when it is not managed effectively in an organization. The author recommends some coping strategies that focus on long-term solutions. A list of warnings that signal the potential and/or existence of conflict in the workplace is also provided. Another tool suggested is the practice of effective listening.
- Dimitroff, R. D., Schmidt, L. A., & Bond, T. D. (2005). Organizational
Behavior and Disaster: A Study of Conflict at NASA. Project Management
Journal, 36, 28, 11.
The document talks about the conflict that occurred within the group
of the NASA and the reasons that lead to the disaster of the Columbia
and Challenger Shuttle. It further states that besides technical
causes there were other reasons that lead to the disaster, they were
mainly the budgetary and scheduling constraints which lead to conflict
among the management. The article further talks about a term used
by the project management profession called Triple Constraints where
the project scope is constrained by cost, schedule and quality. In
the late 1950s NASA showed remarkable success in projects. Pressure
started mounting on NASA when the Soviets launched Sputnik which
was the world's first satellite to be launched in the space. NSAS
was politically pressured to work on developing of satellites under
time and budget constraints. These all factors have contributed towards
the conflict that has been cited in this document.
- Domeyer. (2003) Reducing conflict in the office - Your Life. Retrieved
from the Web on August 28, 2005. USA
Today (Society for the Advancement of Education).
This article provides valuable statistics from a survey done by
Office Team. Using the results of the survey statistics, the nation's
top business leaders indicated that 19% of an executive's time—almost
one day of the week, are dealt with office politic. The author then
offers suggestions for reducing conflicts by creating an open environment
in the workplace, seeking integrity during the hiring process, delegating
authority from someone in the team, and watching burn outs in the
- Ford, J. (2004). Integrating the Internet Into Conflict Management
Systems. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 27.
The article talks about how the internet has opened new avenues
in the conflict resolution. It has the potential to reach geographically
remote team members, provide shared information platform, and support
the negotiation of different member's interests but it further questions
how effective are the online tools including email in the negotiation
process. However the author is optimistic that the online dispute
resolution will replace the face to face method of conflict resolution.
- Ford, N. (2005, June). Don't shoot the messenger. African Business,
This publication talks about the corruption allegations made by
one of the ministers in the government of President Mwai Kibaki it
also talks why many bilateral and multilateral donors had stopped
funding Kenny. The main reason was the financial irregularities in
the government of former President Daniel arap Moi but resumed support
when President Mwai Kibaki took over. However allegations of corruption
in the new government had taken up by divisions within National Rainbow
Coalition. One of the ministers within the government Charity Ngilu
remarked on the functioning of the government to be inefficient and
suggested to sack down entire cabinet if the corrupt ministers were
not removed, his opinion was backed by Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, the
first planning minister. President Mwai Kibaki has asked the commissioner
of Kenya 's Anti-Corruption department to investigate and move with
speed and take actions appropriately in the Ministry of National
- Friedman, D. (April 2004) Resolving Workplace Conflict. Connections Magazine.
This article discusses a conflict resolution tool, abbreviated as B.I.F. The article advocates first describing the behavior causing the conflict. Next, it states that the parties should describe the impact the conflict has one them. Finally, it concludes that the parties should related how the conflict's impact on their feelings. The article provides several examples of how this resolution tool can be applied.
- Garmston, R. (Summer 2005). How to turn conflict into an effective learning process. Journal of Staff Development.
This articles states that as long as disagreements among team members focus on substantive, issue-related differences of opinion, they tend to improve faculty effectiveness. Such cognitive conflict is a natural part of a properly functioning team. Cognitive conflict occurs as team members examine, compare, and reconcile these differences. Some cognitive conflict is necessary to improve school functioning and student learning. It focuses attention on the assumptions that may underlie a particular issue.
- Goldsmith, B. (2003). Conflict resolution in the
workplace. Office Solutions, (Volume 20, Issue 6; pp
This article provides a methodology that is used to reduce conflict resolution in the workplace. Ten issue resolution questions are listed in the article to assist managers and employees to determine if they need to approach the conflict at hand. A resolution preparation technique is also provided to evaluate the conflict scenario. This approach has created positive results in the workplace.
- Gurchiek, K. (June 2005). Bullying: It's Not Just On the Playground; Bosses Report Being Targeted In the Workplace. HR Magazine.
This article discusses the increasing frequency of reported bullying of supervisors by subordinates. This type of bullying can lead to increases in employee turnover as well as increases in work related stress and decreased productivity. It suggests that stopping this type of bullying in the workplace requires senior management support.
- Handy, F. (2004, November 8). Solving workplace
conflict starts with self-awareness. Canadian HR
Reporter, 17, 21, 1.
This publication talks about those involved in the
work place conflict to assess themselves about their
ability to sustain in the work place culture. It
also mentions how managers should be aware of their
strengths and weakness, about themselves to handle
there day to day work and assess themselves where
there weakness are and improve on them through training,
mentoring, self-study and feedback. They should not
only practice it by themselves but also train their
staff and make it a routine job in their day-to-day
work to avoid conflicts.
- Heen, Shelia & Stone, Douglas & Patton,
Bruce. (2000). Difficult conversations: How to Discuss
What Matters Most. New York. Penguin Group.
this book, the authors tell readers how to engage
in the conversations in the professional or personal
lives that make them uncomfortable. Discuss how
tough, honest conversations are critical for managers.
The authors focus on the important role that emotions
play in difficult conversations. Recognizing the
full range of feelings one is experiencing at any
given time is not easy. Yet being comfortable acknowledging
complex and competing feelings is not only an important
step in self-awareness, but it also can ensure
that the negotiating partner understands the motives
and behavior. When it comes to communicating the
thoughts and feelings, the authors of the book endorse
- Katzanek, J. (2005). Cubicle Crisis: Office Clashes Can Harm the Bottom Line. Press Enterprise, April 24, 2005, pg.G01. Riverside, California: The Press Enterprise Co.
Many office conflicts are egotistically driven. As this article indicates, many individuals perceive that their co-workers are consistently trying to "one-up" them in the workplace, and this tension intensifies over time. This can paralyze an organization, for managers are forced to spend a majority of their time diffusing the situation. Moreover, the article focuses on the high costs that conflict can bring to an organization, including the reduction in performance, high turnover rates, and employee sabotage. Suggestions of ways to diffuse conflicts in the workplace are also offered.
- Kelley, Jack.(2005) Friends (at work). Health. vol.19
Issue 6, p128-134.
This article offer advice in handling interpersonal
conflicts between friends in the workplace. Discuss
many ways how to handle conflict that occur with
friends such as promotion and personal problems.
Explains the factors involved when two roles at work
conflict with one another.
- Kemp-Longmore, Christine. (Feb 2000). Conflict resolution in the workplace. Black Collegian.
This article emphasizes the importance of communication and listening as essential tools for managing conflict in the workplace. The author suggests documenting processes so that they can be used again if successful, or if unsuccessful can be used as a learning experience. Also recommend is compromising to address conflict in the workplace so that decisions can be made efficiently, and the parties can return to work.
- Levine, S, (1998). Getting to Resolution: Turning
Conflict into Collaboration. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Using many different real life examples the author
illustrates effective ways to minimize the negative
effects of conflict in the workplace and getting
past those conflicts in order to diffuse problems
that may come up in the future. When left unresolved
conflict often re-emerges through something completely
unrelated down the road, only through true understanding
and agreement can this be avoided.
- Lewis, S. (2004, October 11). Cubicle courtesy can
do much to defuse office conflict. Knight Ridder
Tribune Business News, 1.
This article talks about simple cubicle courtesies
that are often overlooked by employees because they
are overlooked by the employers who never take any
initiative to educate them. The author blames cubical
conflicts arouse because of unawareness of supervisors,
here he cites an example where a woman took exception
to her cubicle neighbor's rock music and told her
so. When she didn't respond, the woman went to her
supervisor, who told her to deal with it. The next
time the music was cranked up, the woman took matters
into her own hands -- and slapped her. The author
further states how he recommended changes in the
office of his client to reduce these kinds of conflicts.
- Luzio-Lockett, A. (1995). Enhancing
relationships within organizations: An examination
of a proactive approach to “bullying at work. Employee Counseling Today, (Volume
7, Issue 1; pp 12).
This article focuses on the statement “practice what you preach”.
Individuals in the organization create
the environment through attitude, beliefs
and values. The environment is seen in
two ways natural or unnatural. Depending
on what comes natural for each individual
will be the way you may perceive the environment
- Mastrocala, K. (Jan 2001). Cubicle Wars:How Bullying At Work Affects Employees. Psychology Today.
This article summarizes the finding of the University of Helsinki, Finland's Mika Kivimaki, Ph.D. The article lists findings that show that hospitals plagued by bullies often suffer reduced employee motivation and compromised patient care. Few companies have programs in place to protect workers from overbearing colleagues. The article suggess telling bullies that their behavior is unacceptable, asking your boss to resolve the problem, and seeking support from a friend or health professional.
- McDermott, E. P. & Berkeley, A. E. (1996).
Alternative dispute resolution in the workplace:
Concepts and techniques for human resource
executives and their counsel. Westport, CT:
The authors address the need in today's workplace
to equitably resolve complaints outside the
courtroom, quickly and efficiently. Using case
studies as illustrations, they examine the
changing legal and legislative landscape.
- McMaster, M. (2001, April). Fight club. Sales
and Marketing Management, 153, 44, 6.
The article talks about the conflict that
arises in the sales department among the sales
representatives. It further cites why there
is a cutthroat competition among the representatives
who work for the same department that leads
to fights; this type of conflict is not only
limited to the sales representatives but also
seen at the higher level in the sales department.
It further says why a manager should mediate
when he sees such type of conflicts occurring
with in his department and how he can resolve
- Mill, S. (October 2004). Addressing Stress Helps Minimize Potential of Burnout: Managing How You
React To Workplace Challenges Such As Feeling Overwhelmed By Projects Can Reduce Frustration. Computing Canada.
This articles discusses the increasing demands of employees in the information technology industry. It advocates following several strategies for limiting stress and reduing conflict while remaining effective in your role.
- Moline, A. (2001, February/March). Conflict
in the work place. Plants, Sites and Parks,
28, 50, 3.
The article talks about the connection between
increased stress levels and conflict-laden
work environments. It is not only the work
pressure that leads to conflict but there is
external stress that causes conflict. The article
further states that most conflict arise in
places where privacy is very little especially
in urban areas like New York, and the reasons
why it happens. It gives examples of Shell
and U.S Postal Services of how they have invested
in programs to resolve conflicts among employees.
- Mollica, Kelly. (2005). Stay above the fray. HRMagazine, 50, 111-114.
This article helps managers solve conflicts between employees with less managerial involvement. The author suggests that interfering and trying to solve conflict between employees decreases the manager's effectiveness and can lead to burnout. A better approach is to create an open-door policy, but encourage the employees have the responsibility of resolving their own disputes.
- Phillips, F. Peter. (Sep 2004). Ten ways to sabotage dispute management: read between the lines to learn what it takes to run a successful program. HR Magazine.
The article labels three stages of conflict, from simple, which can be handed between employees and/or human resources, to escalated requiring outside assistance in arbitration. The author explains that many times resolution is unsuccessful and discusses the top ten reasons behind the failures in conflict resolution. The goal is to successfully address first level issues before they become higher level.
- Ramsey, Robert D. (2005). Interpersonal conflicts. SuperVision, 66, 14-17.
This article helps managers deal with personality clashes of their employees, which are fairly common given the high stress and competition in today's workplace. The author explores the causes and suggests several ways to manage these conflicts on the job. The outcome of effective management is better work relationships and improved productivity.
- Ramsey, Robert D. (2004). Managing workplace anger: your employees', your customers' and your own. SuperVision, 65, 8-10.
In this article, the author points out the effects anger has on an organization's employees and customer relations and suggests some solutions. Managers that have control over their emotions and tempers can act rationally with others, and this reduces angry confrontations. Helping employees handle anger and reduce customer anger therefore begins with self-anger management.
- Roper, Greg. (2005). Managing Employee Relations. HRMagazine, 50, 101-105.
This article details two important skills for managing employee relations. Understanding and demonstrating interpersonal communications is how managers can promote a positive work environment. The second skill is conflict management, which will resolve issues of relations efficiently, resulting in greater employee satisfaction. The author provides suggestions to managers on how to gain these skills.
- Scherffius, J., (April 2005) Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job. AORN Journal.
The beginning chapters deal with understanding conflict. Problem-solving techniques are discussed along with associated pitfalls. The book helps readers step away from a problem, alter their view and look at the actual conflict, and determine the best approach to achieve resolution. Readers are reminded that learning can take place in all steps of conflict resolution, even when dealing with problem behaviors. The last chapters discuss creative problem solving, negotiation, and mediation. The authors stress the use of listening skills, empathy, and collaboration when resolving conflict.
- Sheppard, B. H., Lewicki, R. J. & Milton,
J. W. (1992). Organizational justice: The search
for fairness in the workplace. New York: Macmillan
In this analysis, the authors create a model
for measuring justice in an organization, and
show how to anticipate the responses that will
follow if injustices persist. They examine
contemporary organizational issues and introduce
a new theory of the nature of justice in organizations.
- Simmons, A. (1999) A safe workplace for dangerous
truths: Using dialogue to overcome fear & distrust
at work. New York: AMACON.
This book focuses on the lack of trust in
the workplace as a major contributing factor
in most conflicts. The author suggests exercises
that can be used to effectively communicate
and develop trust between individuals so that
conflicts can be dealt with effectively. Only
when there is trust can meaningful communication
and resolution of conflicts be found.
- Slyke, Erik J. Van. (1999). Listening to Conflict: Finding Constructive Solutions to Workplace Disputes. New York: AMACOM.
Author Erik J. Van Slyke attributes the cause of conflict to people's inability to listen. Effective listening requires active understanding, which then can lead to constructive conflict resolution. This book contains several models and step processes to help the reader build better relationships and solve workplace disputes through utilizing effective listening skills.
- Stamato, L. (2004). The new age of negotiation.
Ivey Business Journal Online, 1.
The article highlights the ways of resolving
conflict in private and profit making enterprises.
A specific guideline is provided to the negotiator
mediating the conflict. The guideline articulates
that negotiator should focus on understanding
the underlying interest of individuals involved
in conflict. The author further reiterates
not to dwell into position based negotiation
instead recognize the importance of effective
framing of negotiations in order to maximize
understanding of individual interests.
- Topchik, Gary S. (2001). Managing Workplace Negativity. New York: AMACOM.
Negativity of employees is common in the workplace, but it can be damaging and costly to a company. Author Gary Topchik gives the reader information and examples on how to identify negative individuals and provide solutions. The outcome of his 21-day process to defeat workplace negativity is higher employee moral, increased productivity, and improved acceptance to company change.
- Ursiny, T.E. (2003). The coward's guide to
conflict: An expert's guide to facing conflict
head-on and building confidence along the way.
This book deals with conflict management on
many different levels. It discusses the common
sources of conflict, the uncomfortable feelings
people may experience when dealing with conflicts
and suggests ways to effectively work through
the conflicts. It uses real life examples to
demonstrate effective ways of dealing with
- Van Slyke, E. J.(1999) Listening to conflict:
Finding Constructive Solutions to Workplace
Disputes. New York: Amacon.
The focus of this book is developing the skills
necessary on both a personal and organizational
level to effectively listen in order to resolve
conflicts. Through developing an environment
that fosters constructive conflict managers
can much more effectively deal with conflicts
when they arise. On an individual level simply
listening and understanding where both parties
are coming from is one of the most necessary
skills for conflict resolution.