Wherever there are groups of people, there are likely to be disagreements. This can be a healthy thing. But if left unresolved, it can make going into work a bit of an ordeal for those involved. This factsheet provides some tips for dealing effectively with conflict when it arises. It covers:
- Underlying causes
- Taking action
- Looking to the future
If you're not seeing eye to eye with a brigade member or work colleague, take a look at what might be behind your differences. Identifying the cause of conflict is the first step to resolving it. The following are major causes of workplace strife:
- Sudden or major changes in working conditions or the brigade environment.
- Lack of clarity and communication about roles and responsibilities.
- Weak or overbearing management styles.
- Clash of personalities.
- Lack of confidence in one or both parties, leading to defensive or aggressive behaviour.
Conflict can often be resolved by talking things over. But if your early attempts to resolve things fail, it's important to act quickly to prevent things escalating further.
- Document your version of events, and ask for support from your Brigade Captain or from your manager.
- Talk to colleagues you feel would be willing to corroborate your account. If you feel you are being bullied, remember you don't have to meet with the alleged perpetrator. Ask your Brigade Captain or Manager to interview you separately.
- Remember that physical assault is a criminal offence and should be reported to the police.
Looking to the future
If you feel comfortable meeting the other person involved, there are a few ways you can try and move things forward constructively, preferably with a third party present.
- Separate facts from feelings and try to use neutral, non-accusatory language.
- Describe the impact on you, rather than the other person's perceived failings. An example: 'I feel shaken and upset. I need you to stop shouting at me', rather than 'You're a total bully. You make me frightened to come to work'.
- Look for areas of common interest, shared goals, to help you move forward.
- If possible, try to find a shared solution, rather than expecting your manager to come up with one.
- Commit to reviewing things within a time frame that suits everyone, and honour that commitment.
- If there appears to be no way to resolve things satisfactorily, talk to HRManager to see how things might be taken forward.
Conflict at your brigade and at work can be very upsetting, but taking steps quickly to resolve the conflict will minimise the effect that it has on all involved.