Employment Law experts
7th October 2016

Conflict is an inevitable part of working relationships. When people with different perspectives and backgrounds spend any amount of time together working towards a similar goal there are always going to be disagreements. As we’ve seen this week with a reported fight between UKIP politicians which resulted in Steven Woolfe being hospitalised, when people are vying for promotion or just have differing opinions, things can get out of hand.

Pam Rogerson, HR Director for the ELAS Group says that conflict doesn’t always have to be a bad thing – it’s the way you manage the clashes that’s important.

She says: “This story has been all over the news and there are conflicting reports as to what may or may not have happened. When the media report a story such as this, particularly in the early stages when all details are not immediately available, then tensions become high and feelings take over. Onlookers might say that it’s obvious what happened and one party or the other should be sacked where, in fact, both parties involved tell differing accounts so a full investigation needs to take place. People can become very animated and opinionated which is not good from an HR perspective where it’s critical to ensure that the investigatory process is followed to the letter. Nigel Farage made some very critical and key comments when he said ‘a full investigation will take place’ and ‘appropriate action will be taken if necessary’.

“This is obviously a high profile incident but the rules would be the same in any workplace. HR professionals need to be able to see the wood through the trees; they should remain unbiased and not prejudge an outcome. I have known many an investigation that turns what we perceive to be the truth on its head. The investigation officer and any subsequent disciplinary officer, should that be deemed necessary, will be trained to make sure they are not influenced by comments of onlookers who were not even there at the time.

“Conflict can occur in any workplace and can manifest itself in many forms. Some people become loud and rambunctious, some get physical or throw a temper tantrum and others can become very quiet and uncooperative. No matter whether their behaviour is aggressive, passive aggressive or a gang/group mentality it’s usually some kind of display of dominance or frustration. Workplaces have procedures in place to deal with all of the above scenarios and, as long as they are applied correctly, following all procedures and applied evenly after full and thorough investigation then employers can be safe in the knowledge that the outcome is fair. Managing disputes the right way can provide opportunities for learning, growth and creativity for employees and management alike.”


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