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The Role Of Alternative Dispute Resolution In Conflict Resolution And Management At Workplace

Organisational conflict or workplace conflict is a sort of dispute which is arisen due to differences of opinions, needs, values and interests which may be in opposition to each other's perspective or actuality.

Such conflicts have more negative impacts on the growth of the organisation as they will result in absenteeism, decrease productivity and impact team morale in a negative way.

Types of Conflicts in Workplace

There are multiple kinds of conflicts that take place in a workplace such as:
  • Task-related conflicts
  • Leadership style conflicts
  • Workstyle conflicts
  • Personality related conflicts
  • Discrimination conflict
  • Innovative idea conflict
These conflicts usually arise when there's a need for interdependency in the completion of a said task or a project and for which everyone needs to be on the same page so that they can meet deadlines, which results in the successful completion of their tasks individually and collectively.

For example, if a manager has a project assigned for which he has to collect multiple information which has been assigned to every individual in regard to a specific collection of data respectively. So, even if one of them fails to accomplish it or manage to meet it on the said time it will impact the team's growth and as well as it will impact negatively the manager as he would not be able to make it to the deadline as decided.
  1. Leadership Style Conflicts
    Every leader has different leadership styles. Some are easy-going, calm and inviting whereas some are strict on the rules and deadlines. One gets to see bold and charismatic leaders and on the other hand, one might be laid back. These different leadership styles have different impacts on the employees and leaders need to be aware of the leadership style their following. A Leader needs to know how to interact with different work styles and with different personalities who are working in his team. To avoid possible conflict, there needs to be mutual respect for the differences amongst each other. Leaders need to make sure to connect and interact well with the employees irrespective of their leadership style.
  2. Workstyle conflicts
    Similar to the leadership styles, people have different work styles as well. Some prefer to do the work all alone whereas on the other some prefer to work in a team that's when they can get the best out of it, some can do more work if they're under pressure whereas some like to finish it off early, some people need constant directions in every step whereas the other doesn't. Similarly to leadership styles, people need to have mutual respect for the differences they have amongst them this works for all the conflicts that occur in a workplace. When in a team one needs to be understanding about the difference of working style each other has and collaborate to fruit something better.
  3. Personality conflicts
    Every individual is different and has a different personality. At times there are people whom you're working with and you find distaste for their personality. It becomes significant to understand that the way we think the other person is, it's not necessary that it will be true. This goes back to the point that everyone needs to be understanding and share empathy to avoid conflicts and one needs to make sure that whatever one is thinking isn't necessary to be true.
  4. Discrimination conflicts
    These conflicts usually take serious turns and it is where human resources need to get involved. If there is discrimination or harassment that is been taken place due to caste, region, age, ethnicity, creed, race and gender. In these instances, there is a dire requirement for an organization to accentuate being unbiased, acquiescence and better comprehension. An environment of coexistence needs to be there in a company.
  5. Innovative idea conflicts
    These kinds of conflicts are usually generated where there is an idea brainstorming. There might be instances when some of them have different ideas and both start to have conflict. In such cases, they both need to understand and co-operate. They need to make sure to look at the solution for a complete project which may not be affected due to differences. They can try to put up their ideas in a way that they both can shine in the same project or consult someone higher for suggestions or mediate the same issue. Such instances may result in multiple ideas which may bring growth to the complete project more efficiently. Therefore, competition leads to growth if done in a healthy manner.

Framework to avoid conflicts
  • Written rules, policies and agreements
    Employees need to be provided with well-documented service conditions in contracts or agreements and even in their HR policies and it has to be in written format. In the event, that the conduct is not as per service conditions then disciplinary proceedings are to be initiated. The procedure of which is to be made known to the employee.
  • Careful hiring process
    As requisite education and experience are key while hiring, it needs to be made sure that the candidate's manners and communication style need to be in accord with it as this will suggest as to whether a candidate is suitable or best fit for a job and the organisation. Similarly, a company's culture has a direct impact on the growth of the candidate in the organisation. Therefore it needs to be made sure that the hiring process of the company/organization should possess good interviewing skills, selection process, and proper screening process.
  • Effective management
    It becomes necessary to have efficient management and authorities in a company that looks after the conflicts and manages them effectively. Whereas on the other hand if a company has poor management where there is a toxic environment and lack of support from management authorities it will dent the relationship of the employees and will result in failed growth of the employees and the company as well. Therefore it becomes extremely necessary to have great and effective management.
  • Grievance redressal system
    Employers should implement a grievance redressal system for employees' grievances which takes part in resolving conflicts amongst parties in the company. The specific incentive needs to be created in the order for the employees to avoid external costly litigation. Such systems will encourage the employees and boost their morals as they might feel that their grievances are heard and hence feel that they have an option for conflict resolution in the organisation itself.

Conflict resolution system at workplace

Conflict resolution can be categorised as a conventional and unconventional method for resolving disputes. It is generally used between 2 or more parties in order to get an amicable solution to the dispute. The amicable solution will give an advantage of ensuring peace between the parties, avoiding financial expenditure towards litigation, reduction in pendency of court cases over and above will be an indicator to society to find such a kind of amicable solution instead of aggravating the dispute.

Some of the steps to resolve disputes in the workplace:

  • Open door policy:
    This kind of policy is in literal meaning on keeping the doors open. As in this employees keeps their door open in order to encourage employees in the hierarchy to approach the senior/leaders/ managers and clarify any doubts, take suggestions and opinions in respect to workplace issues.
  • Management review:
    If a conflict isn't resolved through open-door policies, the said issue may be redressed and reviewed in front of the higher officials of the company.
  • Peer review:
    If an employee has a conflict that persists even after the above sought, they may redress this issue to a pool of employees that are trained in dispute resolution, if the decision is not satisfactory to the parties then, they may take up the matter through arbitration or mediation.
  • Arbitration and conciliation act, 1996:
    In this act part, I formalise the process of arbitration whereas part II formalises the process of conciliation.

In arbitration, there is an arbitrator who will cross-examine the witnesses and accordingly give a decision. This is one the most formal, time-consuming and costly methods to resolve a dispute, whereas in conciliation, there's a conciliator who looks up the matter and provides the best way to settle the matter and it is an out of court method.
  • Mediation:
    In this method, there is a mediator who is neutral to both parties. The said mediator may be an employee of a company who is well trained in dispute resolution or might be some external professional who has no interest in the employer or employee. The mediator tries to come up with innovative methods to resolve a conflict or dispute. It needs to make sure that the said mediation process is done voluntarily by both parties.
  • Facilitation:
    In this kind of method, there will be a facilitator, who may be an employee of a company and listens to the dispute and provides the best ways to settle the disputes. It doesn't judge the dispute on the basis of merit, it just provides an effective solution.

Dispute resolution systems in US and Australia

The United States has a well-established procedure to minimise employee-employer conflict through trade unionism. Which resulted in less litigation before the court of law and the same is done through dispute resolution in house.

In Australia, similarly, a fair work commission is functioning in order to resolve conflicts amongst the parties. To approach the fair work commission the parties needs to take all the appropriate steps within the workplace and which may later be dealt with through arbitration, mediation or conciliation on the consent of the parties.


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