Updated: Feb 26, 2018
As a coach and mentor my natural default position is to look for the positive elements in difficult situations and to encourage positive thinking. Sometimes, though, it’s useful to acknowledge difficult
areas, recognise the effect (and cost) of not dealing with things and then use the unique strengths and gifts we all have to help ourselves and others move forward.
One such area I am finding is becoming more prevalent in the workplace is conflict; or more specifically, managing the conflict that was probably always present but is now becoming more apparent.
When things are going well in the workplace people often put up with irritations or annoyances simply because the positive benefits outweigh the negative aspects; or they change jobs.
When things become more difficult, as they are at present, other jobs are not available and redundancies are rife, people become anxious, fearful, irritated and annoyed.
The result is that those issues that were once bearable are now not so. But recent surveys have shown that
managers think managing conflict is their second most challenging task, second only to managing poor performance; while the total value for stress related absence is estimated at just over £1 billion .
Yet unmanaged conflict between employees is possibly the single largest reducible cost.
So the current elephant in the room is workplace and business conflict. That can be conflict between co-workers, between managers and their teams, between directors or between you and your clients.
Conflict in the workplace causes tension which
affects health, moral, performance and results.
And conflict between businesses can affect reputation, cash flow, customer/supplier relationships ...and the bottom line.
If you and your management team understand the causes of conflict and are sensitive to its presence you can deal with it swiftly and effectively. In order to do so managers need knowledge, skills and tools and the confidence to use all three. . Your job is not to stop conflict all together, people will always disagree, but to reduce the angst, hurt, resentment and blame that is often the result. The challenge, then, is not just to reduce the conflict by finding a solution, but to manage it such that people still have a positive working relationship once the issue is resolved. The key lies in how you do so.