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Five causes of workplace conflicts in the UAE


Poor leadership style and high stress levels top the list

June 8, 2014 5:52 by

Working in the UAE provides ample opportunities to propel your career from good to great, however workplace conflicts are a big cause of concern for many.

Latifa Soobedar, founder and CEO of Corporate Wellness, says the way an individual thinks is based on their belief system, which can be the root cause of many disagreements with colleagues.

She highlights five causes of workplace conflicts in the UAE:

Poor leadership style: Soobedar says, in a lot of cases, staff members perceive their leaders or line managers as not as competent as they could be in their roles: “Quite frequently, a manager may put a lot of pressure on their subordinates because they didn’t organise their time properly.” When it comes to the UAE, many times people might get promoted because they are good in a particular position, but not necessarily a good leader. Also, there is a lack of leadership training, although companies are now starting to realise the broader impact good leadership has on the overall wellness of a workforce

High stress levels: As a result of poor time management (either on the part of leaders or employees), there is low frustration tolerance and a high degree of irritability among staff and this can lead to increased aggressiveness with others

Personality differences: With so many different cultures in the UAE, it’s only natural that different approaches to work will clash: “People approach tasks differently. We have drivers that look at results and are driven towards that.” While some may be focused on results, others might care more about details or building relationships

Lack of openness/transparency: Different companies have different cultures and, overall, there is a varying degree of transparency in the UAE. However, Soobedar notes that employees often perceive that they are not getting the full picture. “Decisions are made and it is not made clear as to why this decision was made”

Clash of values/worldviews: Not only are there different cultures and sub-cultures, but also each individual is a culture of their own. “People need to understand that beliefs create values, which, in turn, create attitudes that develop behaviours. It can change the dynamics of relationships”

The UAE workplace has also become, somewhat, notorious for passive aggressiveness, as Soobedar explains: “It’s very covert, as there is the issue that people don’t feel as secure as they do in other countries. The lack of security in terms of their jobs makes it less likely that people will get into a severe conflict, especially with their seniors.”

Soobedar says it is, therefore, crucial for employees to be understanding of different belief systems and create open channels of communication in order to create the foundation for a healthy working environment.

Naveen Martis, general manager at Profiles International UAE, which specialises in psychometric assessments, points out that employers need to involve themselves as well. A solid human capital management system can provide great assistance to employers looking to improve the state of the office environment. He also suggests that employees take personality assessments to raise awareness of the different types of personalities to prevent future conflicts.

He adds: “The demands of quality talent have increased over the years. This, combined with the fact that there is an increase in the number of millennials whose focus on quality work/life is high on their priority list, means that such conflicts result in high employee turnover and decreased engagement and productivity.”

While competition is steadily increasing in the country, it is vital that organisations prioritise engaging with their staff to ensure a prosperous future.

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