The key to effective conflict management is timely intervention - to notice the signs and to respond appropriately. This guide provides:
insights on the nature of conflict and the specific dynamics involved in workplace conflict; guidelines on the steps you can take to intervene and help your staff constructively work through their differences; and information on internal resources and external services that are available if you require additional assistance.
Conflict occurs in every workplace. In university environments where ideas and innovation are valued and diverse groups and personalities work and interact together, conflict will also arise. Different needs, beliefs and views on how things can or should be done may arise within or across university staff and have the potential to lead to conflict.
Ideally, when such situations arise, people are able to engage in healthy and respectful debate and consideration of each other's viewpoints. When handled well, conflicting needs or beliefs can be an opportunity to deepen our understanding of issues, learn from others, and to develop more inclusive and creative solutions to problems. But if mishandled or left unattended resentments can build and conflict between people can get worse, leading to relationship breakdown and a range of significant human and financial costs. These include lower productivity, reduced morale and motivation, resistance, absenteeism, presenteeism, stress-related symptoms and staff resignations.
Monash values the ability to manage conflict, to deal with situations of conflict effectively when they arise and to create an environment where individuals are skilled and empowered to handle differences with co-workers in a positive and productive manner. This guide aims to help you recognise signs of potential conflict between staff and to give direction on how and when to intervene to produce positive outcomes and minimise the risk of negative effects.
This guide is intended for use in conjunction with training in managing conflict offered through the Staff Development Unit.
The Nature of Workplace Conflict
Early signs of workplace conflict
You are well placed to recognise the signs of potential or actual conflict between staff when you develop a solid understanding of the particular work habits and styles of communicating of your staff. This comes through regular communication and dialogue with your staff, and focused attention on how…