To many people, the word “conflict” is a negative. Thoughts of bad words and hurtful emotion come to mind. The cost of unresolved conflict in organizations is immense. Lost productivity, lost opportunity, or poor choices have contributed to $359 billion in loses nationally. “Unresolved conflict represents the largest REDUCIBLE cost in many businesses, yet remains largely unrecognized.”
This type of conflict seldom results in resolution of an issue, and leaving it unresolved can cost an organization not only tremendous amounts because of nonproductivity, but left unresolved also leads eventually to employee disengagement, which has another layer of lost costs.
But wait! There’s another kind of conflict – Productive Conflict – which does not drain the participants of energy and may actually resolves or clarifies an otherwise cloudy mess. Where teams engage in a “discussion” or “debate” with the exchange of knowledge, experience and differing analytical opinions, will help the collective to arrive at positive decisions and strategies.
With sufficient discourse, a team of reasonable minds will eventually arrive at a consensus – which does not necessarily mean everyone agrees. But without consensus, the team is left with unresolved conflict, where the negative emotions and actions will reside.
Organizations and teams will always be faced with some type of “conflict” – as it’s a necessary part of growth – and moving forward. But it needs to be addressed.
Productive conflict is the counter-balance to the “herd mentality”. You have the seen the situation where a very good idea has been presented, and then the synergy of the group takes over. Suddenly, with everyone on board, the herd stampedes towards the sought-after result.
However, the quiet guy in the corner may just have that last bit of information that will totally change the dynamic and perception of a proposed action. His experience if shared may indicate that there are one or two critical flaws in the thinking, and thus the plan is destined to fail. By sharing this last tidbit BEFORE the stampede starts allows for the collective to identify the roadblocks, and take necessary action to prevent or circumvent the speedbump. This is all good for the organization. Prevent the failures from happening – and its usually much more cost-effective. Won’t even go into examples because we have all seen those.
However, many organizations do not encourage healthy dialogue as new projects or ideas are contemplated. Rather, the “leader” makes a decision and then delivers the news. This isn’t team action. furthermore, it’s usually the most vocal and outgoing team members that will oftentimes dominate the stage if there is dialogue. The more introverted or questioning personalities on the team may fail to speak up because they are intimidated, or in the extreme case – just they don’t care anymore. This leaves the decision without all pertinent and relavent information.
Productive conflict is a solid challenge of thought, based upon facts and true beliefs that are not generated from ill will or negative emotion – but a healthy dialogue of ideas. The style of debating in this fashion is different for each person. Some are contemplative, need more information or data to analyze. Others prefer the vocal debate and utilize their gut instincts. The best leaders will understand the differing needs of each style and guide the discussion in order that all team members have been heard. Without being heard, these team members have a difficult time supporting the ultimate decision (alignment) and often will just nod agreement as to do otherwise seems to them to be futile. This “agreement” is not genuine enough to carry through any difficulties that may arise.
So don’t be afraid of conflict – encourage the healthy debate. Solid decisions are always the best!! We are pleased to introduce our newest Everything DiSC(R) assessment which looks at conflict styles. After taking the assessment, research has found that 96% of participants are better able to handle conflict. For more information on Productive Conflict – connect with us at www.Newleveladvisorsllc.com
Copyright® 2018, Lynne Pope, New Level Advisors