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Must You Have Conflict at Work?

Conflicts

Well conflict is a tough word..can we say differences?

My linkedin friend Justin Barry asked a pointed question on the discussion board

How do you approach and deal with conflict at work?!

His take is pasted below:

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

Another way of looking at conflict: “A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you’re the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong – that’s healthy.”

Why is this happening?

So lets get back to basics.  Conflict occurs because people are not getting what they need or who are seeking their own self-interests.  You may say that conflict is inevitable because we are dealing with people’s jobs, pride, ego etc.

It could be that conflict arises because of :

  • Weak leadership
  • Poor communication
  • Dissatisfaction with management style (e.g lack of openness)

Does this matter, well it SURE does if

  • Affects team/organization performance
  • Affects staff morale
  • Polarizes people
  • Impacts people or team cooperation
  • In extreme cases, eads to irresponsible and harmful behavior, such as fighting, name-calling

BUT remember that conflict can also be positive if

  • Resolves and provides solutions to business problem
  • Provides open communication channels
  • releases positive emotion and deals with staff’s anxiety and stress
  • Helps build trust
  • People improve their understanding and skills of the people and the organization they work for.

The Risk of Conflict can be REDUCED

There is action you can take to reduce these incidents from happening.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Set expectations around goals and staff performances
  • Communicate frequently and honestly
  • Be open about your concerns so everyone knows where you stand.
  • Agree that it is good to disagree so people understand that healthy disagreement would build better decisions
  • Let your teams grow and learn from their mistakes.

    My Take

    Conflict Resolution

    These arguments and suggestions are well taken but these are pragmatic efforts at answering the questions from a managerial rather than leadership perspective. Good leaders take the team on board by clearly articulating the “intent” and explaining the “why” of each activity. Once these are explained and the leader has an open approach towards taking in criticism based on continuous feedbacks..conflicts begin to minimise.

    Each human has a desire to out perform the given standards. A good leader doesn’t pit one member of the team against the other to ensure better performance or does not institute individual rewards for accomplishments. Instead he sets parameters for each member to push the envelop and out perform himself. In such forgiving and enabling environments personal conflicts are minimised to a large extent as team members work to produce collaborative answers. They do not hesitate to take or give advice and suggestions to improve work in their sphere of influence. In such win win environments alone can conflicts be minimised for the larger organisational good.

    Such leadership environment can only be developed by leaders willing to learn, love, share and mentor their team mates. They multiply the power of their team members rather than adding them.

    If conflict still persists, it is time to change the leader.

    I would end it with this quote

    “Put organisation above self..it will largely help you flow like water and brush aside what obstructs your thoughts. If your thoughts are powerful enough they will erode the opposition over time. Else, you like water, again choose the path of least resistance to follow your organisational goals.

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