Workplace conflict. Where to find the silver lining


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There are many reasons why conflicts occur in the workplace. Even the most enlightened among us might actually be the source of some of it. How do we start off our day? Read more here....

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Workplace conflict. Where to find the silver lining

  1. 1. Taico® :: 67 Patterson Village Ct., Bldg F :: Patterson, NY 12563 :: 845-228-GIFT (4438) :: fax: 845-228-5136 :: © 2012 Taico® Incentive Services Inc. Workplace conflict. Where to find the silver lining. There are many reasons why conflicts occur in the workplace. Even the most enlightened among us might actually be the source of some of it. How do we start off our day? What outside influences do we allow to get into our psyche? We often, inadvertently bring our morning edginess into the office along with our low tolerance for disagreement or opposition. I remember one cold, rainy autumn morning last year. I didn't sleep great that night. The town decided it would start its construction project outside my window at 6am. Facing me at the office was a mountain of paper work that had to get done and a big meeting with a new client who promised to bring his tons of demands. OK, client demands come with the territory. But then my electricity went out in the middle of a shower and my office manager called to let me know her daughter was very sick and she would be out for the rest of the week. My clock alarm wouldn't shut up. By this time I amassed a nice headache. I was ready for a conflict. Not good for anyone. By the way, I don't recommend checking emails first thing in the morning either. Spam will annoy you, urgent messages will stress you and being reminded of something you didn't finish yet will give you guilt. Everything worked out OK after all and I didn't have to take an aspirin. Thank God for counting to ten and taking a deep breath. When conflict happens morale gets lowered, absenteeism goes up undermining your creativity and productivity. However, all conflict is not destructive. Sometimes it can be a sign of commitment to a cause or a passion about something positive. There can be a silver lining around every conflict when we understand what it is and how to turn it around. Like any other workplace, yours is filled with individuals having different personalities, wants, values and expectations. It is naive to think there will be no conflicts. The trick is making them an asset to your organization and not a cost liability. Creativity, collaboration, and improvement can be a result of conflict when resolved intelligently. Share This
  2. 2. Taico® :: 67 Patterson Village Ct., Bldg F :: Patterson, NY 12563 :: 845-228-GIFT (4438) :: fax: 845-228-5136 :: © 2012 Taico® Incentive Services Inc. Studies indicate that up to 40% of a manager's time can be spent in addressing conflict. According to the "Conflict Doctor" Daniel Dana PHD. "When dealt with incorrectly it can cost your organization big time." Conflicts exist and will continue to exist. Remaining unresolved is where the damage is done. Those who bare the brunt of unresolved conflict are the people involved, colleagues and ultimately your customer loyalty. Why? Because their effects are obvious. Loss of sleep, injury, accidents, sick leave, jumping ship, stress, animosity and even anxiety. Some organizations have looked at changing their organizational structure to accomodate multiple bosses and a more cross-functional, matrix-style working environment. If this deludes the leadership factor within your business model, it may not provide any help in reducing conflicts. Leadership. As the leader, you are responsible for nurturing a work environment that supports people to flourish. When small wars break out, you must step in right away and use best conflict resolution practices. What might work for the ostrich will not work for you. Get some mediation skills and intervene immediately. Stop the morale downward spiral. That will guarantee you a turning of the negative situation into a positive outcome for all. How to achieve the silver lining outcome. *Conduct a discussion, a dialogue with those engaged in the conflict: This can raise their understanding and insight about goal achievement and the values of cooperating with each other. It can renew mutual respect and faith in their ability to reap the rewards of working together. *When there is a healthy self respect, performance and productivity increases for everyone. You can use the dialogue to achieve self-knowledge through self-examination. Communication helps us all learn those things that are most important to us and how we can achieve them. Share This
  3. 3. Taico® :: 67 Patterson Village Ct., Bldg F :: Patterson, NY 12563 :: 845-228-GIFT (4438) :: fax: 845-228-5136 :: © 2012 Taico® Incentive Services Inc. Those involved in the conflict may even get to like and respect each other. When conflict is handled ineffectively or if conflict issues are ignored, the results will be damaging. Conflicting goals can quickly turn into personal dislike, teamwork break downs, and talent wasted as people disengage from their work. As Susan M. Heathfield says in her conflict resolution article for, "Do not believe, for even a moment, the only people who are affected by the conflict are the participants. Everyone in your office and every employee with whom the conflicting employees interact are affected by the stress. People feel as if they are walking on egg shells in the presence of the antagonists. This contributes to the creation of a hostile work environment for other employees. In worst-case scenarios, your organization members take sides, and your organization is divided." According to consulting and research firm Working Dynamics. "It is estimated that more than 65 percent of performance problems result from strained relationships between employees, not from deficits in individual employees' skill or motivation." "It is estimated that sexual harassment claims alone are costing each Fortune 500 company $6.7 million per year, with costs for smaller companies being proportionately burdensome." "…depression and high stress were found to have the greatest impact on worker health care costs., increasing these costs more than obesity, smoking or high blood pressure. In fact, these cost were 46% higher for workers who felt they were under a lot of stress." Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto" A look at some of the possible ramifications of unresolved conflict can include wasted time and energy, reduced decision-making quality, loss of skilled employees, sabotage, restructuring, lowered job motivation, lost work time and health costs. The list is overwhelming. Share This
  4. 4. Taico® :: 67 Patterson Village Ct., Bldg F :: Patterson, NY 12563 :: 845-228-GIFT (4438) :: fax: 845-228-5136 :: © 2012 Taico® Incentive Services Inc. Some conflict indicators. *Shows of personal dislike between co-workers. Jealousy, envy or prejudices based on religious, racial or sexual differences. Regular gossiping. *The inability for some departments to dialogue or compromise on important issues. *Employees, departments or groups hold the perception that they are not being engaged or receiving enough recognition or status. *Some departments depending on common and scarce resources. *Inferior communication practices within your organization. Sometimes due to geographic location. There are tools that can address this successfully. *Supervisors and managers who duck their responsibility to address and resolve conflict whern it occurs. *Supervisors and managers who themselves demonstrate an attitude in the workplace that contributes to conflict. What you can do. *Encourage everyone to listen to each other and at times repeat for the listener what the other said. *Be calm, attentive and non-judgemental. Once a conflict crosses the line into escalated emotion it makes it infinitely more difficult to resolve the problems. *Start with asking those in conflict to write a simple statement about what's going on with them personally. You can learn much about the possible causes. *Find a neutral/ private environment for a successful get together of the parties. During your resolution meeting: *Encourage everyone to express their concerns. *Ask questions and ask each person to ask questions of each other. *Ask that the parties to think of as many different solutions to the problem as they can. *Take breaks if needed and agree to meet again within an hour or less. *Encourage positive talk and try to avoid words like, "can't," "don't" or "no." *Be aware of the emotions in the room. If anger raises to too high a level, take a water or soda break. *Help everyone "save face" by encouraging the need for mutual compromise. Everyone is right in their own eyes. *Find something everyone can agree on. A good strategy just before taking that needed break. Share This
  5. 5. Taico® :: 67 Patterson Village Ct., Bldg F :: Patterson, NY 12563 :: 845-228-GIFT (4438) :: fax: 845-228-5136 :: © 2012 Taico® Incentive Services Inc. Providing a time and place to address and resolve conflict also demonstrates to your employees that your organization recognizes the issues that are significant to them. For me, I recognize the importance of daily looking at my blessings and looking at the positive side, as best I can. Get moving with a healthy distraction like jogging, dancing, swimming, quiet cup of tea or, for those of a more metaphysical leaning, meditation. All these will work their magic on your behalf. The more of these types of activities we do the better our mood and our ability to deal with the day to day mental gremlins. Reduce unnecessary conflict and find the silver lining. Encourage unity and collaboration in your company. Try to laugh at something. An article, a comedian, a book or a movie. Poking fun at life's crazy situations and laughing at oneself are some of best ways to avoid unnecessary conflict and reap joy. Share This