Managers are Spending 4hrs a Week Dealing with Conflict

managers spend 4hrs a week dealing with conflict 

A new report by Meyers-Briggs, Conflict at Work, reveals that managers spend an average of four hours each week dealing with employee conflict. The research investigates how people in the workplace see conflict today and what we can do to manage it better.

Conflict is what happens when there is a difference of opinion. Change and disruption bring difference, which helps to explain why managing conflict is so valuable in the workplace right now. Our working environment is constantly changing.

John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company and who carried out the study says “This research sheds light on how people in the workplace see conflict and shows how individuals can use knowledge of their own conflict-handling style and personality type to navigate conflict more effectively.”

The Conflict at Work research includes insights such as:

  • Poor communication is the number one cause of conflict.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 people think their managers handle conflict poorly or very poorly.
  • The more time that an individual spent dealing with conflict at work, the lower their job satisfaction and the less included they felt.

Compared to the company’s 2008 study, workplace conflict is becoming more common. Over a third (36%) of people now report dealing with conflict often, very often, or all the time, compared to 29% previously.

The top cause of conflict was poor communication, though conflict looked different for in-office, hybrid, and remote workers. In-office workers were more likely to say that poor communication caused conflict at work compared to hybrid or fully remote workers; but those working hybrid schedules were more likely to say a lack of transparency caused the most conflict.

In an open-ended question, survey respondents were asked, “Whose responsibility is it to ensure that conflict in the workplace is managed effectively?” 241 individuals responded, and their answers were categorized into themes:


Line Supervisor/Manager 45%
Everyone 42%
Me/People Directly Involved 20%
Middle/Senior Management 20%
HR 8%
Everyone 3%


With only 8% looking to HR to help resolve conflict, it’s important to train all employees on how to properly manage conflict. Conflict is inevitable, and if handled properly, can lead to improved relationships, new processes, and new ideas.

The greatest positive benefits of conflict were seen as building relationships, collaboration, and co-operation.

  • Women were more likely than men to mention outcomes around building relationships, collaboration, and co-operation.
  • Respondents who mentioned outcomes around building relationships, collaboration, and co-operation tended to spend a greater proportion of their time working remotely compared with those who did not.
  • They also gave a higher rating to the importance of conflict handling as a leadership or management skill.
  • Those who mentioned outcomes around achieving a better solution tended to rate their ability to manage conflict more positively.
  • Those who mentioned outcomes around change, innovation, or new ideas were more likely to mention changes in policies, products etc., and a lack of transparency as causes of conflict.


Source: Meyers Briggs, 2022

“It you have learned to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along-whether it be business, family relations, or life itself”. 
– Bernard Meltzer

Stop Dreading One-on-Ones

Do your one-on-ones feel aimless?
Not sure if they’re making a difference?

There’s some solid science that says you shouldn’t give them up anytime soon. Harvard Business Review reports that employees of managers who don’t have 1:1 meetings are:

  • 4 times as likely to be disengaged
  • 2 times as likely to view leadership more unfavorably compared to those who meet with their managers regularly

One-on-one meetings can offer boosts to retention and productivity. They can align your team to a common goal. But how do you know if you’re doing it right? 

Consistency is key. Pick a framework that works for your context and stick to it. Structuring your one-on-ones creates predictability and can take a good deal of emotion out of the equation. Looking for a guide to kickstart your feedback sessions?

Follow this easy, printable PDF from Small Giants Community to keep meetings on track.

Always Putting Out Fires at Work?

Often people end the day feeling that they have not completed their tasks satisfactorily because they have spent much of the time “putting out fires.” This is just one of mode of leadership that can cause inefficiency and chaos in a company. Sound familiar?

When fires are continually being put out, it is because there is no planning and no clear definition of the company’s goals and objectives. This means that everything often has to be improvised and that generates chaos. It also means employees are unable to focus on what is really important for the company. When it is the leader who acts as a firefighter, this can create even bigger problems for the team as a whole. Therefore, It is essential to solve this dangerous mode and put into place a clear definition of roles, responsibilities and priorities. It is an exercise of rigor and self-discipline.

How can you stop fostering a culture of firefighting?

  • Make time to map out a plan based on annual goals and objectives and allocate the company budget accordingly.
  • Communicate the plan to the team to ensure each team member is clear on where the company is going, thereby reducing the number of “fires” and generating motivation and a sense of belonging to the group.
  • Clearly define the responsibilities of each position and the associated performance measures.
  • Create simple protocols for all phases of the value chain so that each employee knows their main obligations, resulting in a significantly reduced need to act in a firefighter mode.
  • Make quarterly plans to set smart goals for each job in the short term so that each person reconfirms their priorities on a regular basis.
  • Educate people on proper time management, teaching them to place on their agendas the tasks that really add value to their roles and therefore to the company. This can help employees form positive habits, effectively use their time, avoid unproductive tasks and, above all, move past the interruptions and duplications that these fires generate.

By following the recommendations above, tasks will cease to be as urgent because they have previously been defined, planned and assigned. As a result, the emergencies that are symptomatic of firefighter mode are reduced, generating greater productivity and minimizing stress.

Source: Jose Luis Gonzalez Rodriguez via Forbes

Create Accountability—Reignite Your 1:1 Meetings

Great 1:1 meetings drive accountability by continuously keeping top priorities, top priorities.


If you feel that your one-on-ones aren’t especially useful, then it’s time to improve your process. I truly find that 1:1’s are the single most important meetings of my week. It helps me set expectations, communicate priorities, and listen to the struggles/challenges that each person on my team is having.  When done well, 1:1’s drive engagement and accountability.


Trap: Don’t get caught by the misconception that 1:1’s are just another meeting or that the “open door” policy is better.  I truly believe by focusing 30 min of time each week on each of your direct reports, you will free up hours of meetings by delegating decision making power, and eliminate last-minute fire drills by getting ahead of problems before they blow up while results by motive each person to stay focused on your team’s top priorities.  When done well you will also reduce email and phone calls because both of you have a predetermined weekly time to talk through or share key information.


How to create more effective 1:1 meetings

1-Recurring, scheduled meetings:  Weekly, bi-weekly depending on your role/business.

2-Brief – 30 minutes.  It may look like this:

15-20 min:  Progress on goals and priorities

  • Progress should be reviewed for each goal; share with your leader any issues or blockers they may need to help with to ensure that the target will be achieved.

5 min:  Share recent accomplishments – ask for feedback

  • Ask for feedback from your leader. Any good work or praiseworthy behavior should be recognized and encouraged. Be open to it. It is a gift!

5-10 min:  Development and open-ended Communication

  • Leave this open in the agenda – where does your leader need help? It may be an opportunity!!
  • What are you working to further your career development? Discuss ideas.

3-Location:  Consider having your one on one meeting outside or out of the office – the change of venue can contribute to a more relaxed session.

4-Timing:  Consider the timing for the recurring meeting.  4pm on Friday is not ideal for a focused conversation about your career development.

5-Commit to your 1 to 1 meeting – make it a priority: The first thing you need to do is make your one on one meeting a priority. It’s easy to skip meetings, so schedule a recurring calendar event each week to ensure the appropriate time is set aside.

6-Establish the 1:1 Meeting Agenda Format:  Setting a mutually agreeable agenda allows the both participants to show up prepared and with aligned expectations.

7-Prepare so you can look forward, not backward:  Thoughtful preparation. If you submit your template to your leader the day before your one on one meeting, each will arrive at the meeting knowing what will be discussed and allow you to spend the bulk of your time looking to the future, brainstorming, creating action items, and connecting personally.

8-Focus on you and your projects and development:  Avoid discussing other employees’ work during your time together, unless it’s specifically applicable to the conversation.

Stop Wasting Time: 3 Tips for Getting the Most out of Meetings

Team Coaching Aha! Leadership

We all spend a lot of time in meetings, and we’ve all spent time in meetings where nothing really got accomplished. As a leader, you can change the culture of meetings and make them more productive and collaborative by following these three simple steps:

  1. Only include agenda items that require a meeting. Some things require human interaction and collaborative thinking. Problems that don’t have solutions yet, or conflicts that haven’t been explored. Meetings are best used when we need to take time to let creative solutions emerge.
  2. Everyone necessary should  be present. Sometimes we send our bodies to meetings while our mind focuses on other things. Pull folks out of their smartphones by including agenda items that focus on decisions that make a difference.
  3. Communicate what needs to be accomplished beforehand. No one should be hearing about something for the first time in a meeting. Send out an agenda beforehand to let folks know what to expect, and give them time to process and prepare before they arrive.

By following these three tips, you can create an environment where attendees become active participants. In other words, great meetings are not only pointed at getting things done, but also create an atmosphere of reflection, focus, and collaboration.

“We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” – George Matthew Adams

Want a Solution for Productive Conflict?

Workplace conflict is inevitable. It’s tempting to avoid these uncomfortable situations altogether, but there’s a much more effective solution!

With Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict assessment profile, learners will discover how to curb destructive behaviors so that conflict can become more productive. This is not your average conflict resolution program. Everything DiSC Productive Conflict offers highly personalized content that helps learners increase self-awareness around conflict behaviors and effectively respond to conflict situations, which ultimately improves workplace results and relationships.  You can take individually or as team (in tact teams or cross-company).

Your learners will:

  • Explore the destructive and productive conflict behaviors of each personality DiSC® styles
  • Understand how to manage your response to conflict situations
  • Discover communication strategies when engaging in productive conflict with colleagues

Interested to learn more? Check out the Everything DiSC-Productive Conflict brochure!

Questions? We are happy to help!  Email us at