Silent conflict exists under the surface in organizations and this unarticulated conflict is the most dangerous, as it can be hard to define or resolve.
What is Silent Conflict?
Constantino and Merchant describe workplace conflict as the process of expressing dissatisfaction, disagreement, or unmet expectations with any organizational interchange. One-party manifest conflict, or silent conflict are those situations in which someone has perceived that another person has hurt or threatened them through their words or actions, but they have yet to confront the other person or bring the issue to a supervisor. In these cases, the other party may not even know that there is a conflict and likely the ‘injured’ person is talking to others in the workplace about what has happened, and the impact may be being felt by others.
Signs of Silent Conflict
If this conflict is silent, then how do you know it is happening? There are several signs that could be pointing to conflict under the surface of your organization.
-Behaviour changes: people withdrawing, not providing input, or remaining silent when these behaviours are out of character
-People taking sides or ganging up in the office, factory floor or in meetings
-Absenteeism starts to creep up
-The discretionary input that people once showed disappears and people go home on the dot or don’t put in extra effort
-Negative feedback in staff surveys
-A lack of tolerance
-Complaints and disciplinary action start to rise
-Decrease in productivity
-High turnover: those who feel like they can’t resolve conflict choose instead to leave
What to do if you see these signs?
If you’re seeing these signs in your organization, it could indicate that you have conflict bubbling under the surface. A Workplace Fairness Assessment can help bring issues to light and identify what is working or not working in your conflict management system. The consultant will utilize tools such as policy reviews, structural reviews, surveys, interviews and focus groups to develop a report that evaluates the conflict management system and recommends change. Interested in learning more? Contact us today.