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Conflict in the workplace can harm motivation, productivity, and your reputation. This page offers guidance on understanding, addressing, and avoiding conflict. Reasons for conflict might include misunderstandings, differing opinions, bullying, or cultural differences. Resolving conflict requires you to listen, talk to all involved, and be objective. Ignoring conflict can be destructive, leading to more significant problems. Successful resolution may need compromise, mediation, or even disciplinary action. To avoid conflict, promote an open-door policy where staff feel comfortable discussing issues, and consider joining programmes where staff can seek independent support.
Conflict in the workplace can undermine staff motivation, reduce on-farm productivity, and affect an employer’s reputation. Learn how to deal with conflict and maintain team culture effectively.
When conflict develops, it needs to be treated seriously. Causes of conflict could be misunderstanding, difference of opinion, dishonesty, negligence, bullying, religious or cultural differences, to name a few.
The first step in understanding conflict should be to encourage open discussion between the people involved, without allowing it to become personal. This requires great patience on your part, especially when dealing with people’s beliefs.
Ignoring conflict and hoping it will disappear is extremely destructive; it creates tension, stress, and ill-feeling. Unaddressed conflict will fester until it reaches a crisis point, which may result in the loss of a key employee or unpleasant behaviours.
Successful conflict resolution involves negotiating a way forward and compromise on both sides, so you may not reach a completely acceptable solution the first time. Having an agreed plan in place which is regularly updated can be a good place to start. Once you have the facts:
In these cases, there may be no option but to take disciplinary action. A clearly defined process should be followed, and where staff need to be dismissed, it is a good idea to seek professional legal advice before (or as soon as possible after) making the decision.
Where disciplinary action or dismissal is involved, keeping records is especially important. Ensure you record the complaint containing the information listed below, and give copies to all parties involved:
Of course, it is always better if conflict can be avoided in the first place, rather than having to deal with it.
Encourage an open-door policy on-farm where staff feel comfortable letting you know about issues as they arise. You may be interested in doing a regular Team Pulsecheck to monitor the feeling in your workplace.
It may also be helpful to become part of a programme where staff can seek independent support on issues.