The workplace is for work. You’re here to get things done, grow the business, improve the world and get better at whatever it is that you do.
It’s not a place for squabbling with coworkers, managers and subordinates. But that’s what seems to happen. Workplace conflict is everywhere, eating up productivity and taking precious time away from the things that really matter.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The causes of workplace conflict are recognizable. In separate articles on workplace conflict, psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart identified eight common causes of conflict in the workplace. Think about the conflicts you’ve had in the workplace. You’d be hard-pressed to find on you can’t trace back to one of these root causes.
It’s important to see workplace conflict this way, as a symptom of a great structural problem. That argument with the boss over coming in on Saturday isn’t really about coming in on Saturday. It’s about the misaligned expectations and poor communication that led you to have to come in on Saturday. In other words, the problem is bigger than the problem.
Thankfully, smart and innovative companies are changing the way we work — and eradicating the causes of workplace conflict at the source. Here’s a look at the eight causes and what great companies are doing about them.