How can I identify and solve problems in the workplace?
In everyday working life, many different people usually come together. They all have their own wishes, ideas and goals. At the same time, they have to work closely together, coordinate their work and work processes. Tensions are often inevitable.
But how can you recognize and solve problems in the workplace - so that the situation doesn't escalate and become a burden for everyone involved? Because initially small problems can quickly grow into larger conflicts. These become a disruptive factor for good and harmonious teamwork; in the worst case, they have a negative impact on the entire working atmosphere.
If, on the other hand, problems in the workplace can be managed well and resolved at an early stage, this brings many advantages.
What kind of problems can occur in the workplace?
There's no question about it: satisfied employees are an asset to any company. They are focused on their work, complete it in a goal-oriented manner and contribute new ideas. However, everyday work often looks different - because it is characterized by various problems. A widespread problem in the workplace, for example, is bullying, where an individual employee is isolated or patronized by a group of colleagues and suffers as a result.
Likewise, these problems occur frequently in the workplace:
Frustration regarding compensation
Lack of motivation
Harassment by the supervisor
Reasons and causes for problems at work
The reasons for problems and social conflicts in everyday working life are often complex. For example, the conditions in a company can be unfavorable or stressful for employees: By a non-transparent company policy, by rough manners, imprecise agreements or by derogatory behavior.
A bad working atmosphere usually fuels conflicts - because people who do not feel comfortable at their workplace will pass on anger and disappointment to others. If they don't do this and "bottle up" the anger for a long time, bitterness about the situation can lead to psychological problems.
To avert emerging conflicts, it is important to locate the real cause in order to avoid future tensions. If deep-seated conflicts already exist, it is important to identify and resolve them.
Different types of conflicts in the workplace
Basically, a distinction is made between conflicts involving one person and between conflicts involving two or more people. However, it is not uncommon for different types of conflicts to occur simultaneously. For example, relationship conflicts play into many other conflicts.
Here is an overview of different types of conflicts:
Conflicts that involve one person are these:
Role conflicts: where someone has to fulfill different functions (roles) that they may find difficult or impossible to reconcile. For example, being team leader and colleague at the same time.
Decision conflicts: Making important professional decisions is sometimes difficult - especially if the situation is not clear and all possible variants bring disadvantages.
Conflicts that affect several people are these:
Distribution conflicts: Competitive behavior is part of everyday work life. This often involves questions such as: Who moves up to the higher position? Who gets to go on vacation and when? Who has more budget?
Conflicts over goals and values: Employees do not always pull in the same direction - values and goals differ, making cooperation more difficult.
Factual conflicts: In such conflicts, there is agreement on the goal, but not on the measures to achieve it.
Relational conflicts: The cause is usually a specific event that has caused a person to feel hurt or humiliated and to "vent" his or her emotions. Often this type of conflict has been smoldering in secret for some time and now comes to the surface through an incident.
How do conflicts manifest themselves in the workplace?
For managers, it is sometimes not so easy to spot latent or smoldering conflicts in the team. Warning signs can be, for example:
Employees no longer speak to each other
Those involved make negative or condescending comments about each other
Employees deliberately disregard work instructions
Disputes arise even on minor occasions due to the aggressive mood
Recognize problems at the workplace, handle them correctly and solve them
If things are not going well at work, you should first ask yourself whether the problems mainly concern you (e.g. role conflict) or primarily arise from interaction with others (e.g. factual conflict).
It may be helpful to take a structured approach here and make these considerations:
What are the cause and subject of the problem?
Who are the parties involved?
What stage has the conflict reached? Can it be solved by a calm discussion with the "opponents" or is it better to involve a mediator to find a compromise?
What solutions are possible and acceptable to the parties - even in the long term?
If the problem has less to do with other people at work and more to do with your personal dissatisfaction or lack of motivation in your current job, then of course you need to get to the bottom of it. If, for example, the cause is that you don't see any promotion opportunities for yourself in the company or you feel underchallenged, you should ask your supervisor for a clarifying discussion. Sometimes even that doesn't help and, in the worst case, you should consider changing jobs.
If you have doubts about whether your current job is the right one for you, you should ask yourself some fundamental questions: Where do you want to be professionally in one to five years? Which job would really fulfill you?
Nowadays, you can retrain for another profession within a few months. But it is also possible to qualify for a different field of work or position through further training.
Conflict management: problem solving by professionals
Such a process of conflict management can have very positive effects for the department or the company if the existing problems are addressed openly and dealt with fairly.
After all, conflicts should not always be viewed as negative. They bring to light different opinions, attitudes and behaviors which, in their diversity, can benefit teamwork - as long as this diversity is tolerated and respected by everyone involved.
Conflict management in companies is primarily a task for managers. They should recognize emerging problems in teams and departments at an early stage. If they themselves have experience in conflict management, they can intervene to mediate. Alternatively, a neutral person can be called in as a mediator to resolve the conflicts in a professional and constructive manner.