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ebook - 8 Stages of Workplace Conflict

I’m delighted to say we have just published our new ebook ‘8 Stages of Workplace Conflict – and how best to resolve each stage’.

The book is intended as a tool to help HR and line managers identify what stage a conflict may have reached and the most appropriate intervention options. I’ve drawn on my experience as a professional workplace mediator to identify 8 stages of conflict escalation, highlighting the key features of each stage and suggesting what form of conflict resolution approach could be utilised. We’ve brought each stage to life with a case study to illustrate how each stage looks in the real world.

The 8 stages break down into 4 resolution themes:

  • Self managed

  • Informal

  • Formal

  • Post formal

Below I give a brief overview of the 8 conflict stages and the attached diagram summarises the focus of the issue and the most likely form of resolution at each stage.

Stages 1 and 2 are covered by the resolution theme of ‘Self Managed’. In other words at these stages the conflict is resolved by those directly involved without the intervention of a third party. The vast majority of issues that occur in the workplace are resolved at this early stage. Either the person affected decides not to do anything, or it is resolved by direct communication between the people involved.

As we move into stage 3, third party support is needed to help achieve resolution. Stages 3,4 and 5 come under the resolution theme of ‘Informal’ – in other words, the resolution method sits outside the formal processes such as grievance and disciplinary. These stages are typified by a third party helping those involved find resolution. This could be the line manager, other internal support such as HR, or an independent third party – eg. a professional mediator. If not resolved at these levels, escalation is likely to be to the next stage.

Stage 6 is the one stage under the ‘formal’ theme and covers formal grievance. At this stage informal processes have not been successful. Or those involved may have jumped straight to a formal process – the 8 stages described do not have to be sequential. In a formal process control of the outcome passes away from those directly involved to a third party to decide. Whilst a formal process will give an outcome it may not resolve the actual issue which caused the conflict so stages 7 and 8 in the ‘post formal’ theme may be required.

‘Post formal’ covers stages 7 and 8. After a formal process those involved will either continue to work together or there will be some form of separation. Stage 7 proposes that if they remain working together a post grievance mediation is the best form of resolution. It enables them to move on from the divisive nature of a formal process. If no reconciliation is possible Stage 8 will be separation, with potential further legal consequences.

This article is a brief introduction to the 8 conflict stages. If you’d like to download the full ebook we are offering it FREE for a limited period - click on the advert on the homepage. If like me you prefer to have a good old ‘real’ book, you can buy the paperback from Amazon here.


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