When individuals work together, they may have different goals and work styles. Because of this, conflict can sometimes result. However, if the conflict is handled effectively, a potentially disruptive event can be turned into an opportunity for improved communication and greater productivity. The University offers you a wide range of services and support to help you address concerns and conflicts in your workplace While the University has formal complaint or grievance procedures, please consider using informal conflict management as a first step to resolving differences.
Examples of situations that can lead to conflict include:
- Misunderstandings or lack of information
- Increased stress
- Changes in the workplace
- Adjusting to a different style of supervision
- Evaluation of work performance
- Personal situations that affect work performance
Informal Conflict Management
In informal conflict management, supervisors or employees may initiate a problem-solving process aimed at settling differences fairly, at an early stage, in an open manner, and as close as possible to the source of conflict.
Managers, supervisors, and employees are encouraged to contact one or more of the following campus support services for assistance in resolving conflicts. You may also want to review the online Lynda.com course - Conflict Resolution Fundamentals- to get a more general understanding of conflict and options for informal resolution. (Note: UCSB Staff have free access to Lynda.com courses. Go to the Lynda.com link for more information.)
Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP) provides a variety of services to help you resolve personal or professional problems. To help you resolve conflict, ASAP staff offers facilitated conversations. A facilitated conversation uses an objective, non-judgmental facilitator to help individuals hear each other to move toward conflict resolution. Facilitated conversations are completely confidential and focused on problem solving with a mutually agreed upon outcome.
Office of the Ombuds Assists the campus community with the informal resolution of any University-related complaint or conflict by offering a safe and confidential place to discuss workplace issues, interpersonal conflict, and many other problems.
Title IX/Sexual Harassment Policy Office Provides assistance in resolving and investigating complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Employee & Labor Relations offers consultation services to employees to assess concerns and provide options for resolving the matter informally as well as information about the formal grievance or complaint process.
NOTE: Employees are not required to use informal conflict management and should be aware that attempts at informal conflict management do not extend the time limits for filing complaints or grievances.
Formal Conflict Management
When conflicts cannot be resolved through individual discussions, employees may consider initiating a formal conflict management process by filing a complaint or grievance. Employee & Labor Relations manages the formal conflict management process for employees. (Academic Student Employees should refer to their collective bargaining agreement for more specific information on filing requirements).
UCSB Threat Management Team
While we encourage you to try to resolve conflicts informally, you should not tolerate or ignore threatening or violent behavior in the workplace. These types of behavior are unacceptable and a potential violation of University policy. As a manager or supervisor, you have a responsibility to report these behaviors. You are encouraged to contact the UCSB Threat Management Team(TMT) for assistance. TMT members coordinate resources and assist individuals, supervisors, and administrators with responding to such behavior. Any threats of imminent violence or actual violence should be immediately reported to campus police.
(Portions of this material are adapted, with permission, from UC Riverside’s Human Resources Web Site.)