Monday, June 4, 2012

When Employee Conflict Is Positive

Arguments in the office are usually considered a bad thing. It's hard to imagine any silver lining coming from tension between employees but, according to two Human Resources experts, conflict can actually be positive for an organization.

In "The Big Book of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem clarify that while it is preferable to avoid conflicts in the workplace, there is a lot you can learn from them as long as the correct steps are taken. How a conflict is handled can go a long way to determining the effect on your employees' morale. The actions you take as a manger will ultimately play a role in whether a conflict ends up being negative or positive in the long run.

Mitchell and Gamlem wrote that a conflict is negative when:

  • Differences are not addressed;
  • Expectations are not managed;
  • Assumptions rather than facts are central to the disagreement; and,
  • The individuals involved or affected don’t want to be part of the solution.
You can avoid all of the issues that come with those mistakes by addressing the conflict in a positive manner. You do this by:
  • Respecting the value of the conflict and making sure differences are honored and respected;
  • Making sure issues are open and not masked;
  • Ensuring ideas and personalities are central; and,
  • Managing emotions and making sure points of view are expressed in a skillful and respectful manner.

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