Conflict gets a bad rap and most people relate to it as something negative. The reality is that conflict is part of our daily life. It is inevitable and it can have a positive impact on the workplace but only if it is managed well.
Conflict often gets ignored because people do not like conflict, they do not know what to do and we often hope that it will go away if we just ignore it. Unfortunately it never goes away. More often than not the conflict will bubble under the surface and it will grow and have a bigger negative impact on the business.
A study in the US shows that employees spend 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict which is equivalent to approximately $350 billion dollars a year in paid hours. These numbers only reflect paid hours while conflict has a much bigger impact. When conflict is not managed well employees will start calling in sick or leave their job altogether. When you are dealing with conflict people are distracted and productivity goes down. And more often than not entire teams get affected by the conflict that others have and their productivity and happiness at work is also impacted. Conflict is stressful and can lead to mental health issues. People will take the issues at work home so now their personal life is impacted too.
If you are a business leader with conflict issues, here are 5 things that you can do to manage conflict in your business.
I often get calls when the situation is at crisis point and it is very hard at that point to salvage the situation. When people do not get along deal with it immediately and do not let the conflict fester.
We do not get taught automatically in life how to effectively deal with conflict and we don’t like to talk about it or deal with it. It comes at no surprise that a lot of people do not know how to handle conflict in an effective way. Train yourself and train your staff in conflict resolution skills so there are people in your business who can facilitate a conflict resolution process or hire an external mediator to come and facilitate the process if you do not have the skills required in house.
Have a process in place for conflict resolution and make sure your staff knows about it. Make sure it is a safe process for your employees. When you have a process in place your staff will know that it is important to you and that conflict will be dealt within your business. If your employees have someone they can talk to and go to with their problems safely without repercussions you will know about what is going on and you can deal with it. If people do not know what to do or where to go you might only find out what has been going on when it is too late.
Often when people tell us about something that is not working for them we will go and defend the situation and we do not listen. It is empowering when people feel listened to and it makes a big difference even though you might not be able to fix the problem straight away.
Everyone gets busy and putting time and money aside to prevent conflict from happening or festering might feel counter productive at times because everything feels fine at the moment and it is not too bad right? I urge you to invest because if you don’t you might find yourself in a crisis situation later that will cost you a lot more time, money and possibly impact on your mental health.
Conflict Resolution & Mediation Specialist
If you are interested in any of Lisanne’s workshops or reading about her background, please visit this link.