How To Manage Conflicts In The Nonprofit Workplace

How can you manage conflicts in the nonprofit workplace? These three tips put conflict into perspective and offer constructive responses for nonprofit leaders.


If poorly managed, workplace conflict can be time-consuming and distracting. Employees in the United States spend approximately 2.1 hours each week involved in conflict. The nonprofit workplace is no exception. Passions run high—and conflict should be expected.

That said, conflict is a natural part of any workplace and does not always have to bring negative results. In fact, managing disputes in the workplace can strengthen trust within a team and stimulate progress as individuals learn from past mistakes.

Use these top three tips from the GlobalGiving Peer Learning Network to prevent and mitigate conflict when it arises at your workplace:

    1. Prioritize prevention.

    It’s important to create a collaborative and respectful working environment where values and openness to new ideas are promoted so staff feel understood and valued. Investing in a team goes beyond giving them a monthly pay. It is rather about trying to understand what motivates and drives them to work for a particular cause. This can be achieved by creating a sense of collective pride, through which the team feels connected.

    Build structure and set clear goals and roles so that everyone in your organization understands how they can contribute and participate in the decision-making process.

    It’s also crucial to promote a healthy work-life balance and a culture of self-care, which can reduce stress-caused conflict. Did you know: 34% of conflict is caused by workplace stress and another 33% by heavy workloads?

    2. Resolve disputes as quickly as possible.

    The origins of conflicts in the workplace are varied and not always obvious—competition between colleagues, different working styles, stress, or organization hierarchy are common culprits. Try to identify root causes of conflict and pre-empt them before they impact your team.

    When they inevitably arise, disputes need to be handled as soon as possible.

    Being reactive and resolving them quickly and fairly is key to restoring a collaborative working environment.

    Resolving a dispute informally is often the best way to prevent a conflict from getting worse as it allows individuals to each have their say and mutually resolve the situation. This way, staff can quickly get back on track to a common goal.

    3. Be impartial.

    Successful conflict management requires impartial mediation. Individuals involved have the opportunity to constructively share their different perspectives with honesty and respect until they reach a shared agreement. Conflict does not always have to be negative.

    Resolving a dispute in this way can stimulate progress and strengthen relationships for the long-term.

    Managing disputes is about acknowledging that differences in opinions can and will arise, but handling them with respect and sensitivity can have long-term positive effects for you and your team.

Part of the GlobalGiving community of nonprofits? Watch full Peer Learning Webinar, “Addressing Conflicts In The Workplace,” for more tips.

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Featured Photo: Help Cambodians End Family and Community Violence by Peace Bridges Organization

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