Workplace conflict is often exacerbated by a failure to confront it, such as when a leader is insecure or a star performer’s behavior needs addressing, writes Marlene Chism. Such situations need coaching on problem-solving and decision-making skills.



Conflict in the workplace happens for a variety of reasons: Poor decision-making processes, lack of clarity, ineffective communication and hundreds of other reasons. Many leaders view conflict as problematic, but conflict is not the problem, mismanagement is.Mismanagement occurs when leaders avoid, appease, or resort to aggression. Here are some common problems and some methods of effectively managing the conflict.

Skipping chain of command

When you lead a project, but a team member goes around your back trying to influence others before a vote or a decision, unnecessary conflict erupts. Trust and transparency start to erode. Members unintentionally engage in gossip and hearsay, furthering the conflict.

This doesn’t happen only on the front line. I’ve seen board members, investors and C-suite individuals skipping due process (gathering their troops) to state their disagreement instead of bringing the issue to the group or project manager. This indicates a lack of conflict capacity and an urge to get things done by undermining instead of addressing.

What to do: Define the decision-making process. If you are being undermined because a colleague, board member or employee is going around your back to influence others, there’s a process to alignment. First talk with your superior about what you need. It goes like this: