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Effectively managing workplace conflict in your farm business

3 min read

This text has been adapted, with permission, from an article written by AGRIcarrières, Quebec's agricultural production workforce sectoral committee, entitled "Comment gérer les conflits de travail à la ferme?” (How to manage workplace conflict on the farm).  

Workplace conflict is a real headache for many managers because of the negative impact it can have on the business. Deterioration in the work environment can lead to a significant increase in absenteeism, resulting in a substantial loss of productivity. If the situation persists and worsens, employees may even quit, potentially causing significant financial loss for your business. 

Disagreements between coworkers can take many forms, ranging from interpersonal clashes or differences in values and views about the organization of work to power struggles. As the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) points out, “Conflict that is poorly managed or ignored can lead to harassment. Effective conflict management helps to maintain a healthy work climate.” 

Facilitating conflict resolution 

As a manager, it's important to intervene quickly when conflict threatens the smooth operation of the farm. Rather than taking a top-down approach, it's better to act as a facilitator to get the parties involved in finding solutions. Here are some suggestions. 

1. Listen and understand 

The first, and perhaps the most important, step is to shift into listening mode in order to clearly understand the situation. Take the time to talk to each employee involved and maintain a neutral and impartial stance. Take some temporary steps, such as separating the conflicting parties or suspending reporting relationships, in order to prevent tensions from escalating. It's important not to act hastily, so that you don’t lose the trust of team members. Simply feeling heard and understood can help ease hostilities. 

Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, you can intervene decisively while remaining sensitive and caring. Your employees need to feel your presence and support within a well-structured framework to weather the storm. 

2. Clarify 

Involving employees in finding solutions increases their motivation and commitment.When organizational conflict arises, focus on transparency. Clearly communicate expectations and encourage your employees to articulate their needs. Invite everyone to share ideas and clarify the situation, goals, processes and decision-making criteria so that everyone understands the business's vision. Involving employees in finding solutions increases their motivation and commitment. 

Sometimes it’s impossible to come to an agreement, especially when there’s a mismatch between certain personality types. In these situations, finding a compromise or common ground is critical to maintaining a healthy work environment for the rest of the team over the long haul. 

3. Follow up 

Be sure to enforce the chosen solution and monitor the situation closely. Resolving disputes requires persistence and regular follow-up to ensure the solution is sustainable. 


Managing conflict in the workplace can be a significant challenge for managers. However, a fair, equitable and effective approach to resolving it can strengthen your leadership and positively engage your team members. 

Resources at your fingertips  

In Quebec, help is available to develop your skills as an employer or supervisor. We encourage you to contact the human resources experts at the Agricultural Employment Centre (CEA) (French only) in your area.  

For more information and advice on managing your employees, additional resources are available online. At the national level, you can visit the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) website.

You can also access detailed information on the AGRIcarrières website (French only).

Adapted by: Mélanie Lagacé 

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