Conflict in the workplace is inevitable—and that’s probably why conflict resolution has been such a popular topic among Training Daily Advisor readers. Today and tomorrow, we revisit this topic in order to ensure new leaders are prepared to mediate disputes within their team.
Management experts estimate that most supervisors and managers spend as much as a quarter or more of their valuable work time managing conflicts. That alarming statistic makes conflict resolution sound like a valuable training topic, doesn’t it?
In today’s Advisor, we’re going to examine conflict resolution and why it’s so important for your personnel to be trained in this invaluable management skill.
When supervisors and managers know how to resolve workplace conflicts effectively, they can save time and turn potentially destructive situations into positive, productive opportunities for growth and development within their work group. Additionally, when they know how to build consensus among employees, they can enhance motivation and cooperation as well as create an atmosphere in which agreement generally prevails over conflict.
What Is Conflict?
Teach your management personnel these basic definitions and explanations. Conflict is a disagreement. It is a dispute with others. It generally involves the clash of interests, ideas, or personalities.
It’s important to realize that conflict is inevitable. Whenever and wherever people work or live together, there are going to be occasional disagreements. That’s because conflict is a normal part of human life. People have different personalities, points of view, ideas, needs, and so forth. Those differences sometimes clash and that leads to conflict.
Conflict can arise within groups or between individuals. Conflict can be professional and focus on work issues, or it can be personal and arise out of the interaction of different personalities.
It’s also very important to realize that conflict is not necessarily destructive. It can be productive and lead to improved relationships or innovative ideas. It all depends on how you deal with it.
All conflicts can be resolved if you manage them properly.
What are the Benefits of Managing Conflict Well?
Motivate your employees for this training by assuring them that when workplace conflict is well managed, it can have constructive outcomes like the following:
- Well-managed conflict can spark creativity and challenge employees to think about what they are doing and how they might improve methods and procedures.
- When employees disagree about how things should be done, the debate can lead to better products and services for customers—and that can make for a more successful, competitive organization.
- In an atmosphere that acknowledges and manages conflict effectively, healthy competition among employees can exist without becoming destructive.
- In such an atmosphere, diversity can also flourish, and employees from different backgrounds can present and promote their ideas. All points of view can be heard and appreciated.
On the other hand, when workplace conflict is not well managed, it is likely to have a destructive influence. Poorly managed conflict among employees may lead to:
- Reduced productivity;
- Lower morale;
- Increased absenteeism, as employees seek to avoid a hostile and uncomfortable work environment;
- Greater turnover, as workers leave to find jobs in organizations where conflict is well managed;
- The “wildfire” effect, with one conflict leading to others and spreading out of control within groups and between departments; and
- An increased potential for violence.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we present an 8-step conflict resolution process for leaders.