There will be conflict but there doesn't have to be blood. Let IZ Ventures help you examine six keys to positive organizational conflict.
Whenever you are dealing with people there will always be issues. Even good people have disagreements. The issue with disagreements is not in having them but in how we conduct ourselves. Professionals need to remain professional and how they disagree. Being professional doesn’t mean that at times our humanity expresses itself in negative ways, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. Conflict is not the issue.
Proactive conflict resolution
In times of conflict leadership has to decide whether they need to be proactive in restoration. More often than not this is better to be carried through rather than ignored. Our friends at Step Up 2 Success specialize in resources for classroom management, many of which have direct application to the workplace.
A strong organizational culture will be proactive in preventing negative outbursts.
A strong organization culture is not afraid of constructive conflict.
Constructive conflict is positive. When team members are able to disagree and work through questions related to vision and value there is an energy that is conducive to progress. In being proactive an organization will establish times and places for where disagreements can occur.
Practical conflict boundaries
For example, if two technicians in the field have a disagreement they should understand that it would be improper to have carry that confrontation out in front of the customer. A more constructive location for conflict is to go to the truck to work through a disagreement. If the issue is escalating then those team members should dismiss themselves from the jobsite to “get lunch” or “pick up materials” so that they can work through their issue.
Management conflict engagement
Management should be available to assist as needed when conflict is unresolved between team members. When we hire crew members that embrace and enhance the organizational culture, these types of outbursts should be the exception rather than the norm. Our recruitment and hiring practices should be in line with our organizational values.
Weekly or monthly team meeting are a great place for team members to work through ideas as a group. If there are issues with performance, productivity or personalities, these group gatherings can be a proactive method for teaching and training on both values and well as conflict resolution. Even when we hire recruits who embrace our culture, we still need to invest in training them and developing our team around those core principles.
The rules of conflict
When an employee observes a team member doing something wrong or incorrect, the training and culture should be such that conflict is expected. Employees should be empowered to address each other directly, this is the highest form of sustainable accountability. Depending on the severity of the infraction observed, employees should know when to notify their supervisor. If things escalate or are unresolved then supervisors should be engaged in either re-training or restoring relationships between employees.
There will be conflict. Will there be solutions? The key perspectives include distinguishing between constructive and destructive conflict. The questions those in a position of leadership must ask are, “Does the situation of resistance show someone who has made a mistake, someone who is processing the changes or someone who has decided to be an obstacle to progress?”
The most effective means of conflict resolution is to prevent conflict. Prevention measures should be built into recruiting, hiring, training and discipline for the whole organization. The goal is to clarify our vision and values and to build those into everything we do as a team. If we can be clear, we can be consistent and from consistency we can develop accountability.
The keys to success as an organization include clarity, consistency and accountability.
IZ Ventures more than business consulting and coaching - we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer.
Conflict can be healthy in an organization as we collaborate for creative solutions. As leaders we should not create conflict by making employees the enemy - let our video on engagement help you identify positive means to deal with discipline.
Originally published as The Cause, Cost and Countermeasure to Conflict in an Organization in The Project Management Times
By Jon Isaacson
If you have dysfunction in your team, the cost may be higher than you want to admit but the cure may also be closer than you realize.
Frustration in the workplace, does such a thing exist? In a recent article in Forbes magazine, researchers discussed the primary sources of disgruntlement within organizations. According to the study, most employees noted that they were frustrated by personality differences and incompetence in their co-workers. This is not news to anyone who has worked in an organizational setting, one human plus one human will eventually equal conflict. The potential for conflict, as well as the intensity and duration, are compounded by the number of humans added to the equation. More people, more problems. What is interesting about the Forbes article is that upon further investigation there was an underlying source which contributed to the environment of dysfunction,
“In fact, teams having conflict had much higher levels of ambiguity in three categories of work: their team’s goals, roles, and procedures. So, while it is very human to assign personal motive and blame in times of trouble, there isn’t really anything personal about the core of workplace conflict. If you back up and look at the facts, a lack of clarity is what’s truly to blame.” (Wakeman, 2015)
The need for clarity is foundational to functionality and trust within an organization. Where there is a lack of clarity, there will be conflict. Office drama is costly, CPP Inc. performed a study in 2008 which discovered that employees in the United States spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict which CPP estimated as costing over $359 billion in paid hours or the equivalent of 385 million working days (Lawler, 2010). Every business understands the need to watch the bottom line, so why are mangers unwilling to recognize the high cost of conflict? Think of it, if every employee in your office could increase engagement and efficiency by 7% by only changing one element, wouldn’t that be something a wise leader would be more intentional about?
Recognize the cost of inaction. Managers spend much of their time putting out fires, and yet our discussion to this point has demonstrated that the cure for dysfunction may be closer that you think. By understanding the cost of conflict, we recognize the value of investing in practices that will help our organization to identify and address these hot beds of discordance within our teams.
Realize the need to eliminate the blame game. When employees focus on blaming each other, too often managers are happy to allow them to target their ire upon each other rather than dealing with the core of these issues which creates a negatively recurring cycle. As noted by the author in a prior article - how leaders respond to conflicts can either reinforce cultural values that strengthen the team, or they can respond in ways that destroy morale (Isaacson, 2016).
Reduce conflict by creating clarity. If the research from Wakeman and her team as outlined in Forbes is accurate, then leaders can make a significant reduction in interpersonal conflict by being more intentional about organizational clarity. As a leader, you can alleviate friction between team members by being more clear about team goals, roles, and procedures as quoted above.
If we can sense the frustration in the organization and we can calculate the deep costs, we should be proactive in working towards long-term solutions. Often inaction is caused by an inability to identify the causes or formulate an effective plan, but now that these have been brought to light the only question left is whether we will be intentional about getting into the mix to make the magic happen. There are no shortcuts when working with interpersonal dynamics but progress is attainable through the countermeasures for the conflict we have discussed.
Wakeman, Cy (2015, June 22) The number 1 source of workplace conflict, and how to avoid it. Forbes. Retrieved fromhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/cywakeman/2015/06/22/the-1-source-of-workplace-conflict-and-how-to-avoid-it/#32a27f89126e
Lawler, Jennifer (2010, June 21) The real cost of workplace conflict. Entrepreneur. Retrieved fromhttps://www.entrepreneur.com/article/207196
Isaacson, Jon (2016, July 11) Eliminating blame in your organization. Retrieved from http://izvents.weebly.com/words/eliminating-blame-in-your-organization
If you didn't catch the nuggets of knowledge when the article The Cause, Cost and Countermeasure to Conflict in an Organization was published with the Project Management Times, you know have the opportunity to read it through the Business Analyst Times. Excerpt, "Recognize the cost of inaction. Managers spend much of their time putting out fires, and yet our discussion to this point has demonstrated that the cure for dysfunction may be closer that you think. By understanding the cost of conflict, we recognize the value of investing in practices that will help our organization to identify and address these hot beds of discordance within our teams." Read more HERE. Tips to help you recognize, realize and reduce conflict causes can be essential to building team engagement. Let us know what you think and if you have found methods that have been helpful with your teams.
Project managers don't have the market on efficiency, but they do have insights on how to juggle multiple responsibilities, adjust to evolving complexities and reach mission objectives. Emotional intelligence as it relates to working with diverse people within a team is an essential skill when developing positive dynamics. As outlined in our recent article published with Project Management Times, If you have dysfunction in your team, the cost may be higher than you want to admit but the cure may also be closer than you realize. Our article entitled The Cause, Cost And Countermeasure To Conflict In An Organization discusses ideas for understanding sources of conflict as well as how to reduce and resolve these issues.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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