Sources of Conflict in the Workplace: Task, Relationship, and Process Conflict

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  • 0:05 Organizational Conflict
  • 0:40 Task Conflict
  • 1:35 Relationship Conflict
  • 3:09 Process Conflict
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Companies have to learn to deal with conflict on a daily basis. Organizational conflict is disagreement between groups or employees regarding work-related issues. Task, relationship and process are the three sources of conflict in a workplace.

Organizational Conflict

Ninja Corporation is a successful martial arts business. They make martial arts clothing, weapons and toys. They have had difficulty with numerous sources of conflict within their organization in the past. Organizational conflict is disagreement between groups or employees regarding work-related issues. The three sources of conflict that we find in the workplace are task, relationship and process. Let's use Ninja Corporation as a lens to view how they have met, tackled and solved sources of conflict within their company.

Task Conflict

Within Ninja Corporation, conflict has developed because of their production department questioning how certain work projects should be completed. Task conflict involves differences based on work details and goals. This is the easiest type of conflict to solve, and usually excellent communication and employee debate find the remedy for the problem.

For example, a Ninja production manager wanted to assemble the martial arts knives without an additional quality check. A quality control manager who disagreed confronted the production manager and then discussed the situation. Once the production manager understood why this last quality check was so important, he backed down on his decision. Task conflict can cause good discussion within an organization and create streamlined productivity. The next type of conflict is based on personal issues between employees.

Relationship Conflict

The second type of conflict is called relationship conflict. This type of personal conflict develops over disagreements and differences between individuals or groups. The biggest difference is that this type of conflict is over personal issues and not work-related. In that respect, this type of conflict can be the most difficult to diffuse and fix in an organization. Relationship conflicts can be long lasting and hurt overall employee job commitment, productivity, trust and work performance.

Ninja Corporation has heard rumblings that one of the newest marketing managers is having relationship conflicts with most of the employees in the department. The marketing manager can be abrupt and rude with subordinates, resulting in relationship issues. She is known to call subordinates stupid, fat and lazy. In addition, she comes to work poorly dressed and smelling of alcohol. This has caused the marketing team to become unproductive with their quarterly goals.

The upper management of Ninja Corporation realized that these relationship issues were slowly invading all echelons of the company since every team in the company has to work with marketing. The management quickly investigated the claims and ended up firing the marketing manager. They realized that the relationship was unfixable, and the negative energy caused by the relationship problems in the department would infect and destroy the entire company. The last type of conflict deals with the process of how a task will be accomplished.

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