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Conflict here, conflict there, conflict everywhere

A blog by Nipa Patel, CMP Associate

24th July 2020

Today I want to talk about conflict. Whether you are in the office or working remotely this still exists. Working remotely just makes the conflict hidden, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Conflict is everywhere at the moment, bubbling just under the surface, waiting to erupt. Why?

  1. Individuals are on furlough wondering why they have been the chosen ones;
  2. The ones on furlough have had little to no contact with their teams and feel neglected;
  3. Individuals are working harder than ever due to their colleagues being on furlough and feel resentment for being at work while their colleagues are having an extended holiday (or so they assume);
  4. Working parents or carers are juggling work and family commitments all at the same time, often working strange hours to ensure they deliver;
  5. People are being made redundant and take issue with the selection, communication process, etc;
  6. Leaders want their employees to come back to work but there is anxiety in the air that they don’t understand and are not taking the time to;
  7. Leaders are having to make difficult decisions which may not be popular.

The list goes on, but it exists whether it be our own personal conflict or with others. Now more than ever people will be less forthcoming about conflict for fear of job security or being accused of wasting management time. What are we doing about it? Whether we are leaders or working in HR, it is our responsibility to deal with it. Now more than ever there is conflict, some hidden, some more obvious, regardless of the situation, it should be tackled head-on. But how can we do this if we are remote?

Listen and understand: We need to be actively listening, communicating and making an effort to understand where this conflict comes from and why, and how it can be resolved effectively.

Patience, empathy and asking the right questions: Just because we can’t see people face to face, it does not mean that we cannot see the struggle on-screen or in their communications.

Take the time to engage on a one on one: Create a culture of more openness and honesty. With more and more of us potentially working remotely for the long haul, openness, honesty and trust will become ever more important – from everyone.

Tackle issues head-on and looking out for those early signs: They are there in body language, email tone, level of engagement and presence, we just need to be mindful of looking out for them because it is now far too easy to brush it under the carpet and hoping it will go away. There are long-term consequences of doing this to individuals, teams and ultimately the business.

Moral of the story: act now, start listening and mediate! Please do not be a business or leader that feels conflict does not exist or is not important. If you care about your teams, culture and engagement levels, it is important!