Conflict is an inevitable part of our existence. Workplace conflict is unavoidable when employees of various backgrounds, interests, and different views come together for a common business purpose. But, conflict in and of itself is not bad or negative. Instead, conflict can be a place of possibilities and a foundation for constructive change.
Managing conflict is all about people and dynamics between them. When conflict is managed correctly, it can be a force for creating new ideas, personal growth, and positive momentum in the workplace. When conflict is managed poorly in a work environment, employees at all levels of the organization are likely to be affected. And they are less likely to be committed to the organizational decisions.
Unresolved conflicts can create emotional stress for employees, and divert attention from the organization’s mission. Consequences of unmanaged or poorly managed conflict can include lost time and productivity, high turnover rates, and damage to organization’s reputation.
Conflicts arise because of many different reasons, but the common ingredients of conflict usually include differences in values, perceptions, and opinions; differences in power; and differences in personalities.
It is also important to create an environment in which corrosive conflict is less likely to occur. The foundation of such a culture is better communications between all involved. Creating systems that increase trust and respect among employees and management takes time and effort, but the benefits outweigh the initial investments.
To curb or prevent the negative effects of conflict, and to reap the benefits of proper conflict management, the organizations can put in place conflict management systems, and train their employees in conflict resolution. This can be done through one-day workshops, small-group facilitations, and one-on-one sessions. Large organizations usually have a full-time ombudsman for dispute resolutions. Smaller businesses should have a mediator on call as needed for their dispute resolution needs.