One of the most common questions people ask me is: How can we avoid or minimize conflict in the workplace?
I get why people ask it. After all, many of us really don’t like conflict, finding it to be stressful, awkward, and unpleasant. But of course, if you’ve ever been in a family or worked around other people, you know that conflict happens. There’s no way to totally avoid it!
And in fact, I’ll go a step further. You really wouldn’t want to avoid all conflict. That’s because, while some conflicts are unhealthy, other conflicts can be productive and necessary.
That’s why transformational leaders don’t go out of their way to sidestep conflict. They don’t actively try to cause it, either—but when the opportunity arises for truly constructive conflict resolution, they take it.
Why Conflict Can Be Good
One way to think about conflict is that it’s crucial for working through two sides of an issue, and making a decision (or finding some common ground) that’s in the best interest of the team, the company, and the customer. This can’t be done if you simply turn a blind eye to every potential disagreement; a good, constructive conflict management strategy is essential.
To that end, I would say that conflict management is really a matter of resource allocation. It’s a matter of strategic planning. It’s a matter of talent management. All of these core business processes can result in clashes of opinion, and smart conflict resolution is needed to work your way forward.
One more thing to note about conflict is that when you avoid it, that doesn’t mean it just goes away. Usually, it starts to bubble and fester just under the surface. Team members carry around resentments that their ideas were not heard or not enacted. In the end, avoiding conflict can cause it to erupt, or else to eke away at morale.
The bottom line? Transformational leaders don’t need to fear conflict, but they do need to enact a sound strategy for addressing it positively. That’s one of the things I love to talk and coach people about, so please feel free to give me a call today!
You can reach me at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098.
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