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CONFLICT: Seeing The Symptoms And Knowing When To Intervene

Updated: Oct 4, 2018

I have seen my fair share of intergroup conflict in the work environment, and I know how crippling it can be to the organization.

In most cases the conflict amongst members of a group or between groups solved itself after some crucial conversations, and those involved coming to a common understanding of the problem.

But there are those times where intervention becomes necessary. Read on to see the signs and symptoms of intergroup conflict:

Three indicators that I consider evidence that intergroup conflict exists are:

1. When an individual disengages from an activity that is incongruent with his or her own interests or needs (Rahim, 2002)

Often times, individuals are placed in situations that impact others within a group or organization, and their own interests or needs are not placed at the forefront of the issue. Instinctively, the individual will enter into conflict to assert his or her own beliefs and needs into the equation in an effort to fight for what he or she needs or desires.

2. When a party wants a mutually desirable resource that may be in short supply (Rahim, 2002).

This cause of conflict can stem from something as simple as office space, to something as complex as limited parts, supplies, or budgets. Having the resources needed, both in stock and finance can be a major source of contention when there is only so much to go around. These types of shortages can cause work stoppages amongst a group or organization.

3. When an individual or group possesses attitudes, values, skills, and goals that are not similar to others (Rahim, 2002).

This can be a very crippling type of conflict and can manifest in many ways, most notably in decrease in effectiveness between effected individuals or groups. If values do not align, and attitudes take over there is almost certainly going to be conflict.

The circumstances listed above cause conflict among incompatible groups. Some indicators that display these types of conflict may be arising are:

  • Decrease in productivity.

  • In-fighting among members of group or between groups.

  • Lack of resources to successfully complete work assigned.

  • Ethical violations against company policy.

  • Employee morale decreases.

If these types of indicators arise around the circumstances mentioned, it is prudent for management to take notice and monitor the situation. If the indicators persist over a period of time and performance suffers, it may be time for management to intervene to assist those in conflict with a sound resolution.

Are you seeing the signs and symptoms described above, and need some advice or assistance in handling conflict in you organization? Contact Power Dynamics, LLC today!

Michael Gallagher, MBA

President - Power Dynamics, LLC


Phone: (912) 4143978


Rahim, M. (2002). Toward a theory of managing organizational conflict. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 13(3), 206-235.

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