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Workplace Friction in Startups: What Causes it and How to Solve it

two staff having conflict in a workplace

Starting a business means having a broad scope of knowledge and experience on how to handle people with distinct personalities and the possible circumstances commonly taking place in every work environment.

A business owner can be likened to a shepherd while employees can be compared to the sheep that the business owner tends to on a daily basis. As the shepherd, they must be able to handle and organize each and every one of their “sheep” or subordinates to improve the productivity of their team. 

However, due to the distinct personalities that comprise every company or team, the rate of workplace conflict continues to remain at a noticeably high level. 

Workplace conflicts are negative outcomes brought by human reflexes that discourage or go against the flow of positive interactions. Conflict in the workplace can either be work-related or it can also be the result of personal differences and misunderstandings.

When left unresolved, among the most common outcomes of conflicts among co-workers include:

  • Compromised productivity
  • Long-term avoidance
  • Loss of communication
  • Unhealthy competition
  • Unnecessary adjustments in socialization

Resolving conflicts and misunderstandings among employees is necessary; otherwise, companies will not be able to reach its core goals and aspirations for success. For owners of newly established businesses, dealing with employee conflicts can be difficult and overwhelming.

One of the best ways to minimize or deal with office disagreements is by knowing some of the common reasons behind why employees tend to clash and engage in altercations with each other.

What are some of the most common causes of conflicts in the workplace?


This is perhaps one of the most common causes of conflicts in the workplace. At times, certain personalities tend to not blend well together, making it difficult for co-workers to harmonize and get along with each other.

In other cases, co-workers may get along at first, but once they find out that they have opposing views on certain issues or topics that they are passionate about, they tend to avoid the workmate who contradicts their perspective.

What to do?

As the boss, it is important to be all ears when tackling these issues and get to the bottom of the disagreement.

It is best to implement events like team-building exercises and hold regular meetings where utilizing opposing views and different personalities becomes instrumental in reaching a common goal for the team.

Meetings and team building activities serve as a great avenue where employees get the opportunity to get to know each and every team member better.

Another way to solve contradicting beliefs and personalities is by giving employees the freedom to show their point of view in a particular situation, while ultimately encouraging a culture of respect and openness among the staff. 


Failing to recognize or credit employees for their hard work instantly triggers negative responses and conflicts. It is an unfortunate truth that some supervisors and even co-workers have the tendency to assume acknowledgement for work and effort that they did not contribute.

When this happens, employees become less motivated to work due to the shaping mindset that their superior will not appreciate their work no matter how good they are in their given task.

What to do?

Always ensure that proper credit is given where it is due. Recognizing each employee for the hard work that they put into their job shows that the company values them as an important part of its continuous growth.

Otherwise, not being able to acknowledge their efforts reflects a lack of appreciation from the management and this can potentially lead to employee-boss conflict. It can likewise affect a company’s productivity on a long-term basis.


Every company has its own “peak season”, wherein work, projects and deadlines come together in bulk. During these times, it can’t be helped that some employees get to receive double the work on their plate. However, on days where client demands are not that hectic, then the workload of employees should also be lessened.

There are bosses and companies that tend to transform their employees into an all-around staff. In other words, employees are bombarded with several tasks that are not even included in their job description. The worse part is, these employees are strikingly underpaid for all the work and excess working hours they are asked to complete.

What to do?

The best way to resolve this is by creating a complete and detailed job description for every job title. The job description should enumerate all the tasks and responsibilities that each job title entails.

This way, employees will have a concrete basis for what type of tasks and additional responsibilities are still aligned with their main role in the company. Should there be any changes in the job descriptions, it is the company’s responsibility to inform the employees. 

If the boss or company wishes to make their staff more flexible and capable of fulfilling a wider range of tasks and responsibilities, then holding seminars concentrated on developing skills and expanding employee knowledge should be prioritized.

Skill-building seminars enable business owners to be better at identifying their employees skill sets and limitations. After all, employees are not machines. They each have their own limits, strengths and weaknesses.


Not providing feedback—whether positive or negative—on employees’ outputs greatly affects team performance. Constructive feedback is what helps employees learn and improve.

Without it, employees will have no idea on whether they are doing their job properly or not. Failure to provide feedback on employees’ work performance often leads to misunderstandings.

This is because the supervisor or person in-charge of managing the team chooses not to communicate what every team member’s strengths and weaknesses are. Feedback and counseling are great ways for the management to express what is expected of each employee as they complete the tasks assigned to them.

When not communicated in a clear and concise manner, employees will find it difficult to assess the objective of every project or task that they are being made to handle. 

What to do?

Providing feedback to employees’ work is highly valuable. Feedback enables employees to identify which part of their work and performance need adjustments or improvements.

Feedbacks likewise help resolve brooding conflicts related to the performance of each employee. For example, if an employee is habitually tardy, then supervisors or team leaders should tell this particular staff how their poor attendance is affecting the productivity in the workplace.

There are instances where employees need someone to actively take notice of their imperfections and bad habits for them to start realizing that they need to change their unbecoming ways. As mentioned in the introduction, conflicts are natural. It can come in many forms.

However, with the solutions depicted in this article, business owners and team supervisors in every company should be able to gain a better understanding of how and why conflicts in the office take place.

More importantly, it provides a keener eye and wider perspective on how conflicts among employees can be resolved in a peaceful and healthy manner. 

Always make it a point to communicate, set realistic and rational goals for the team, assign workload at an acceptable amount and prioritize activities that promote the overall well-being of employees in order to nurture a positive and enjoyable work environment.

To win the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace. – Doug Conant

How do you resolve conflicts in your workplace? What is the most complicated workplace disagreement you had to deal with? Let us know in the comments!

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