Causes of Group Conflict in the Workplace

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  • 0:03 Understanding Causes…
  • 0:33 Competition
  • 1:24 Personality Differences
  • 2:08 Expectations and Favoritism
  • 2:45 Needs and Values
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Schofield
Bring a group of people together at work, and it's likely there will be some threat of conflict. There are four key areas managers can plan for to help eliminate some of the conflict. This lesson will discuss those four key areas.

Understanding Causes of Conflict

A group of people working together with varying opinions, ideas, and needs - it is inevitable there will be conflicts at work. Add to those challenges the pressure and stress each person has, both personally and professionally, and it is amazing teams can function at all. Because of all of the potential problems that can arise with personnel, it's important to understand what some of the causes are of conflict in the workplace. Here are four possible causes of conflict that can be addressed in the workplace:


First, there is competition. It's only natural that in many business settings there is implied or explicit competition between co-workers. Sometimes competition is encouraged by upper management to increase production, achieve goals, or have contests. This may be effective short-term. However, as a long-term strategy, encouraging competition between individuals or teams can backfire.

As competition arises, stress and pressure increases. Those involved feel they must push themselves harder and achieve more. It can also cause fighting and contention between co-workers who think they need to out-perform another employee to get ahead. This competition can create a very negative work environment and can negatively affect the whole department. Competition can wreck teamwork and collaboration.

Personality Differences

Secondly, there are the personality differences that can cause conflicts within a group. It's only natural there will be irritations and frustrations between co-workers. Let's face it, employees are human. There are times someone may really get on your nerves and drive you crazy. If it's a short-term situation, you can deal with annoyances and still work with someone. What happens when the minor annoyances become huge frustrations?

Managers must be aware of personality traits, the interaction between team members, and problems some staff members may have with each other. Understanding the challenges helps a leader to make appropriate accommodations to ensure the personality differences are supported, and the people involved can still be productive.

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