The Art Of Resolving Conflicts In The Workplace

What do we mean when we talk about conflict at work?

CONFLICT: An antagonistic state or action involving divergent ideas, interests, or persons; a mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs drives, wishes, or external or internal demands.
We can all agree that conflict is an inevitable and natural by-product of people having different needs, interests, and goals. What’s important is that when conflicts occur, they be recognized and dealt with instead of ignored.

But why focus this much attention on conflicts at work? After all, don’t most conflicts get worked out eventually? Perhaps, but what are the costs, both in human and economic terms?

Let’s look at some statistics:

Costs in Terms of Percentages of Time Spent Resolving Conflict

Source Group % Time Dealing
with Conflict
American Management Association 250 executives/managers 24%
Training & Development Journal Managers 25%-60%
Learning From Conflict Administrators/officials
in public sector
49%

Consider the many problems associated with on-the-job conflicts.

1
Negatives Of Unresolved Conflict:
  • Stress
  • Turnover
  • Reduced Productivity
  • Hampered performance
  • Lower Morale
  • Reduced profits/service

As an individual, if you cannot successfully resolve conflict:

  • You’re less likely to be perceived as a leader.
  • You’re less influential and less able to win the cooperation of others.
  • Your credibility and authority are undermined.
  • Your self esteem and self respect suffer.

The American Management Association study cited earlier identified the following as the principal causes of conflict within organizations:

  • Misunderstandings
  • Personality clashes
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Frustration and irritability
  • Substandard performance
  • Differences over work method
  • Responsibility issues
  • Authority issues
  • Value and goal differences
  • Non-compliance with rules and policies
  • Competition for limited resources

No matter what your job may be, you face conflict on a regular basis. And conflicts not only waste your time – they are also expensive to your organization.

2
Costs Of Conflict To The Organization In Dollars:

Let’s estimate the costs of conflict for a medium-sized company with 100 managers:

  • 100 managers x $40,000 average annual salary = $4,000,000
  • 25% of the manager’s time spent on conflict = $1,000,0000

And this only accounts for management time. In order to come up with a truly accurate conflict cost, you’d have to factor in the other costs:

  • Wasted employee time
  • Increased turnover rates
  • Mistakes, poor decisions
  • Missed business opportunities
  • Adversely affected profits, service
  • High stress, illness

Both you and your organization benefit greatly when you know how to successfully resolve conflict.

3
Benefits Of Resolving Conflicts:
  • Reduced employee stress
  • Reduced labor turnover
  • Individual peak performance
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Increased morale and cooperation
  • Maximized profit and service potential

Mastering conflict resolution techniques offers important personal benefits:

  • You’ll gain cooperation from all types of people at work
  • You’ll influence others for win-win outcomes.
  • You’ll be better able to set your own priorities and say no when necessary.
  • You’ll improve your performance and productivity.
  • All this will increase your printability and allow you to operate with greater integrity and ethics.
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