"Those in conflict are unable to sustain a productive and stable exchange," according to Craig Rashkis, a mediator who has a master's degree in dispute resolution from Pepperdine University's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.
In his article Workplace Conflict and the Importance of Resolving Early, he writes that the entire amount of organization resources spent on resolving workplace conflict early on is less than resources used in just defending a half-day lawsuit. Perhaps more importantly, Rashkis defines benefits which include:
- Increased morale and productivity
- Greater employee loyalty
- Greater retention
- Clarification of organizational purpose and policy
- Increased profitability
- Better reputation
- Success through superior products and services
A New Leadership Point of View
Conflict is not always easy to identify and must be distinguished from disagreements which can be a part of an enthusiastic discussion or just caring for the situation at hand. Conflict is associated with anger and frustration.
Effective leaders work from a viewpoint that keeps diverse work teams centered and successful. They know how to use courage and resolve to achieve goals and work with others. According to research of 840,000 employees from the U.S. and U.K., 43% of employees report being disengaged on the job by their third year of employment because they become discouraged or dissatisfied in some way. Conflict in the workplace contributes to this and further disengages employees.
When leaders start to identify and deal with situations that cause conflict, issues are resolved fairly and effectively.
Diverse Personalities and Work Styles at the Table
There has been much reported about the growing diversity of our workforce. As this continues to be a factor, leaders need to be trained to recognize that personality traits and ego influence the initiation of conflict.
Being aware and having the right skills to recognize conflict quickly will address the root cause, rather than getting bogged down in inflammatory outbursts and inappropriate behavior. Without early resolve, this can become a continual cycle leading to the disengagement and broken commitment to individual performance. By using effective techniques in communication and management, leaders help team members understand other points of view in order to move beyond conflict.
Keeping Them Engaged and Sustained
You can create a more positive bottom line by improving morale with more functional and engaged employees. As Rashkis indicates, "The single most important benefit of resolving workplace conflict early is avoiding its debilitating and potentially disastrous effects."
Resolving Conflicts is a program that can teach your managers and team leaders the skills to recognize and deal with potential conflict situations early. Some organizations use a combination of online and traditional instructor-led approaches to deliver this type of training but all organizations are different. This program offers the flexibility to implement one or a combination of both options to train your employees.
Ask yourself these four questions to find out if your leaders have the right point of view to deal with conflict. Do my managers and team leaders...
- Accept conflict as inevitable in all work situations and deal with it in order to maintain focus and productivity?
- Recognize the positive and negative impacts of conflicts and leverage situations to everyone's advantage?
- Distinguish between the two sources of conflict so that the situation can be resolved fairly and effectively?
- Establish a cooperative atmosphere to resolve conflicts when they arise?
If you answered any of these with a "No," it is likely that your organization needs some work in this area to create a more engaged and sustained workforce.
Quote for the Week
"Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth or the only truth." – Charles Anderson Dana
Betouf, Edward (March 2007). The Rock and the Fish: Teachable Points of View for Leadership. Training & Development.
Laff, Michael (April 2007). Employee Disengagement Strikes Early. Training & Development.
Rashkis, Craig. (July 2007). Workplace Conflict and the Importance of Resolving it Early. Mediation Network. Accessed, April 10, 2007: www.mediationnetwork.net/articles/med_bus_0001.cfm
Vital Learning Corporation (2007). Resolving Conflicts.