Pogba & Mourinho: How to manage work relations that go bad

This week, the feud between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho continued to rumble on following footage emerging of the duo in a hostile training ground stand-off, with words and steely stares exchanged at Carrington.

Conflict within any working environment can take many forms and can lead to significant problems for organisations, including employee strikes, bad PR, resignations or employment tribunal claims. To prevent an untenable situation like Pogba and Mourinho, managers are advised to take these five steps to help recognise signs of conflict and explore options for preventing both existing and future problems.

Identify the signs

Conflicts can be identified through a heated exchange between individuals but this is not always the case. Employers should observe if employees start to demonstrate changes in their behaviour such as a fall in productivity. It might be that their unhappiness is leading them to have further time away from work or there is an indication of this in staff questionnaires. Only by recognising that there is a problem can employers start to work against it.

Identify who is in conflict

An open door policy should be maintained that encourages employees to come forward about their concerns. If the issue involves contention between individuals it can easily lead to claims of bullying and should be approached with care. If the situation involves rivalries or disagreements between teams it would be good practice to form representative groups from both sides that can highlight the issues.

 Identify the cause

Conflicts can be caused by varying factors in a workplace such as poor management, unfair treatment or lack of equal opportunities. They can also be results of personality clashes. Care must be taken to ascertain the main reason behind the problem. For instance, an employee may claim that their current manager sets unrealistic expectations and wishes to move department but they may have long held a personal dislike of this individual or be frustrated due to their lack of career progression.

Manage the issue

Employers should conduct an informal investigation that involves all individuals concerned and explores ways of resolving the conflict. To this end, managers should be fully trained on correct responses and may consider using techniques such as problem-solving cycles or working groups. If informal discussions fail and a formal grievance is raised, internal procedures that deal with bullying or misconduct should be followed.

Prevent future conflict

Clear systems should put in place that listens to employee concerns. Employers should develop positive relationships with their workforce that encourage initiative and build trust between them. This could be undertaken through ensuring that all decisions within the organisation are made fairly and transparently, including basing recruitment and promotion on individual merit. Recognising the individual needs of employees can also help foster positivity.

About Alan Price

Alan Price is Employment Law and HR Director at Peninsula.

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