How conflict can be a positive influence in the workplace
In the past, we’ve discussed various causes of workplace conflict as well as the importance of resolving conflict [see here and here]. But how do we go about addressing conflict when it occurs? The first critical step to handling conflict is understanding that it can be a positive influence in the workplace and should not always be seen as a problem. Instead, conflict can be viewed as an opportunity, for example, consider the following:
- Conflict leads to changes and improvements
Conflict provides an opportunity to re-evaluate a situation, and forces us to look for new solutions – whether it’s in the way a team works together, how a service is delivered, or the way a product is used. While it can seem like an unpleasant process to those involved, conflict leads to a better way once it has been recognized and resolved effectively.
- Conflict can be a sign that someone’s needs are not being met
Conflict can be a symptom of someone’s dissatisfaction in the workplace. If employee dissatisfaction is high, productivity, performance, and profitability will suffer. The key to resolving conflict here is to identify what needs are not being met and find out why. For example, employees may be looking for performance feedback—which management isn’t currently providing. By diagnosing dissatisfaction, employers can move to increase worker satisfaction and benefit from dramatically improved business results.
- Conflict can result in amazing ideas
Encouraging positive conflict is often a great way to innovate. For instance, appointing a “devil’s advocate” when brainstorming is a well-known way of forcing participants to think about different sides of an idea and innovating further. In the day-to-day workplace, as well as in a brainstorming session, conflict can work well in this way as long as it’s handled effectively.
While conflict can be a destructive force, it can also be constructive if it is used as inspiration in a respectful and compassionate manner. By being able to utilize conflict positively when it does happen, your business will create a healthy and innovative workplace environment.