Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How workplace conflict can be positive, even productive

When you think about conflict at work, a cheerful picture rarely comes to mind for most. Though it's unlikely you're imagining sunny skies and smiles, research suggests that workplace conflict, if managed correctly, can have very positive, even productive results.

An article at Human Resource Executive Online examined a new study by Psychometrics Canada that reveals how conflict in the workplace may benefit an organization if it is handled properly.

"The word conflict has such a negative connotation, but what we heard from HR leaders is it isn't always necessarily bad," says Shawn Bakker, a psychologist and researcher at Psychometrics Canada.

"Conflict is always going to be there. The idea of eliminating it from a workplace is impossible, and, from what we learned, probably not desirable."

The study found that conflict at work can help employees discover better solutions, spark major innovations, and boost motivation, among other workplace benefits.

More than 350 human resource professionals across Canada were surveyed to reveal that conflict can trigger:

  • Better understanding of others (77 percent);
  • Better solutions to problems and challenges (57 percent);
  • Higher work-team performance (40 percent);
  • Increased motivation (31 percent); and
  • Major innovations (21 percent).

Another report on workplace conflict by CPP, Inc., found that U.S. companies spend an average of 2.8 hours each week dealing with conflict, which translates into nearly $359 billion in paid hours.

The CPP report also found that while conflict costs us time and money, it can result in positive outcomes if managers and employee have the right training.

“These figures should be a wake-up call to industry leaders,” said Jeff Hayes, CEO, CPP, Inc. “Companies are losing billions of dollars because of poorly managed conflict, and we expect that figure to grow in a down economy as stress and workload – two of the biggest causes of conflict – rise.”

Right now is the perfect time for that training, with most workplaces ripe for conflict. A mixture of layoffs, mounting financial stress and the pressure to cut spending is only adding fuel to the existing fire.

With successful conflict management training, your employees and managers can learn to deal with workplace disputes in a way that benefits everyone involved. Here are just a few ways conflict at work can be positive:

  • The issues that a dispute stems from could reveal a new area of training that should be addressed.
  • Conflict could open the doors to a new process that could improve the way employees get their jobs done.
  • Arguments often occur when an employee feels like they’re not being heard. Employes who are given a chance to voice their opinions will feel valued and more engaged.
  • Conflict may open your eyes to areas where managers require more training in handling heated situations.

No workplace will ever be void of conflict. Many times, it’s through conflict that we improve and find more effective ways to get things done at work.

Conflict may never be easy to deal with, but it can lead to growth and change. By training employees how to handle conflict, you'll be fostering a workplace culture that accepts differences and promotes new ideas.

No comments:

Brought to you by www.gneil.com