Navigating Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

August 15, 2018

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Workplace conflict can often cause feelings of concern or anxiety, especially for supervisors who have to manage these situations. The term workplace conflict may conjure up images of non-professional behavior, raised voices or heightened tension between employees. While it makes sense that most leaders would try to avoid conflict, some conflict can be constructive when managed successfully.

When handled properly, disagreements can provide employees the opportunity to express differing viewpoints without fear of ridicule or embarrassment, and may even foster and promote employee engagement and team morale. Here are some tips that leaders can use to effectively manage these situations:

Encourage sincerity

To cultivate an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable expressing concerns, leaders should regularly elicit feedback from their teams. Creating a positive and safe place to express opinions can be key to gaining insight on potentially negative situations before they arise. While some workers may be more comfortable expressing their opinions than others, checking in with each employee individually may help instill confidence and a willingness to openly share views in the future.

When gathering employee feedback, leaders should remain present, be open to all thoughts or concerns, and be ready to act if necessary. Failure to respond to a pressing issue or suggestion may be more damaging than not listening in the first place, whereas displaying openness and empathy can help develop a culture in which workers feel heard and valued.

Avoid taking sides

When a disagreement arises in the workplace, the affected individuals should be given the opportunity to share their feelings and opinions without fear of retaliation or anger. Management should remain cautious about taking sides in these situations, as this may help mitigate feelings of isolation and embarrassment by the involved party.

When seeking a resolution, managers should make the process collaborative and provide all parties with constructive feedback and details of any relevant next steps, helping to ensure a mutual understanding of the situation. After a resolution has been reached, leaders should follow up periodically with those affected in order to assess progress, minimize further conflict and continue improving morale.

Act quickly

Workplace conflict has the potential to spread rapidly and can occasionally affect employees who are otherwise content. When conflict does arise, leadership should move quickly to maintain positive employee morale and prevent negative energy from spreading through the workplace.

Conflict is often unavoidable and, to some degree, a normal and expected occurrence in the workplace. If leadership and the employees involved remain professional and respectful, the situation can become a positive and constructive experience. By investing time to listen, communicating clear goals and outlining the steps necessary to resolve the issue in a calm and friendly manner, managers can help demonstrate and foster a workplace culture based on open discussion and trust.

About Insperity

Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity. They are located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 32 years provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.

Kay Oder


Kay Oder has owned six companies, has been a resource to thousands to businesses and brought solutions to help business owners minimize risk, improve business performance and navigate today’s highly regulated and complex “business of being an employer”.

Today, Kay uses the insights gained throughout her career as a speaker, business owner and business advisor. Audiences enjoy her candid, informed perspective on HR related topics as well as her razor-sharp southern wit.

Kay is also a Certified Business Performance Advisor with Insperity, the $2.6 billion business performance solutions provider she has called home since 1993. Kay has consistently been among the company’s top producers during her 20 plus years with the organization, earning Insperity’s highest honors, including the Top Volume, Circle of Excellence and the Chairman’s Club awards.

Prior to Insperity, Kay was the President and Co-founder of Texas Valve Specialists, a supplier in the oil and gas industry. She has also owned companies in the construction, demolition, machining and promotional apparel arenas. She spent four years as a client of Insperity and upon selling her last venture, joined the Insperity team.

From an early age Kay demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning at age six when she sold cantaloupes from her parents’ front yard, which she offered three for fifty-cents, with a free puppy.

Kay and her husband, Dale, relocated to Austin from the Houston area in 1996 when a theft occurred in their family: their granddaughter was born and stole their hearts, so they had to follow.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit

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