Why should I care about Conflict

 I guess I am “old school”.  As a manager, I expect employees who have conflicts to get over it and do their work.  Why should I be concerned about learning conflict management skills? 

Employees who are engaged in conflict may go through the motions of doing their work, but they are often distracted by the situation.  They gossip with others about the problem, become less motivated, sabotage the business, miss work, or quit their jobs. Others file grievances and some resort to litigation.  All of these responses to unresolved conflict are costly to the organization.

 Many employees turn to their leaders to help resolve these problems.  In fact, managers spend 40% to 60% of their day attempting to resolve conflicts. Consider the average manager’s salary and the financial impact of negative conflict increases significantly. While conflicts are a natural part of organizational life, most people have not been taught how to manage them productively.  Additionally, many believe that conflict is negative, so they avoid it.  Who wants to engage in something that is undesirable?  As a result, employees lose trust in the leader’s abilities, and they are less likely to follow people they do not trust.                                              

 Rather than avoid the conflict or tell the employees to “get over it”, leaders would benefit from viewing conflict as a symptom that something is not working.  It is an opportunity for positive change, organizational learning, and improved performance.  Conflict management is a strategic approach to becoming a world class organization that attracts and maintains the best and brightest employees.