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Conflict is an inevitable part of life. No matter how hard you try, it can seem that there will always be something that causes you or someone around you to be frustrated, angry, and impatient – or a whole host of other not-so-pleasant emotions.
Conflict arises when the people we work with have different ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, values, goals or expectations. Yes, conflict can be destructive! It diverts energy from more important activities and issues; it polarizes people and reduces co¬operation; and it can produce irresponsible behavior. And conflict can be constructive! It opens up and improves communication; it strength¬ens working relationships and team¬work; and it leads to better quality decisions and problem solutions.
The ability to handle conflict and difficult situations is a great leadership skill. When you are confident in your people management skills, you don’t have to be afraid of disagreement. You don’t have to back away from problems. Instead you can confidently face the confrontation and bring the issue out into the open. Well-managed conflict actually stimulates ideas, sparks creativity and encourages personal improvement. Conflict by itself is neither good nor bad. It’s the way YOU handle conflict that produces constructive or destructive results.
Time is Money. There are a variety of direct costs to the organization associated with poorly managed conflict, including, in the worst cases, the loss of customers and good employees. One that is visible to everyone is the time taken to successfully resolve issues. Time that would be better spent on accomplishing work and achieving goals is instead used to manage disagreements, smooth ruffled feathers, and deal with difficult people.
When CPP Inc commissioned a study on workplace conflict, they found that that an overwhelming majority (85%) of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree. Furthermore, they found on average, each employee spends 2.1 hours every week – approximately one day a month – dealing with conflict in some way (being involved in a disagreement, managing a conflict between co-workers, etc.)
It is also a major drain on the resources of HR departments: half of the HR workers questioned (51%) spend between one and five hours a week managing disagreements.
These seven points will be covered:
The crucial issue is not whether conflict, disagreement and difficult people can be avoided; the real concern is how they can be dealt with that will lead to positive outcomes. If managed improperly, businesses’ productivity, operational effectiveness, and morale take a major hit. On the other hand, when channeled through the right tools and expertise, conflict can lead to a better understanding of others, improved solutions to problems or challenges, and major innovation.
Marcia Zidle is a board certified executive coach, business management consultant and keynote speaker, who helps organizations to leverage their leadership and human capital assets.
She has 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience in a variety of industries including health care, financial services, oil and gas, manufacturing, insurance, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, government and nonprofits.
She brings an expertise in strategy and alignment; social and emotional intelligence; executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change management.
She has been selected as one of LinkedIn Profinder’s top coaches for 2016.View all trainings by this speaker