Conflict Resolution at Work:
What’s Your Goal?

Conflict-Resolution-at-WorkDiverse perspectives are beneficial for organizations. They challenge tunnel vision and the status quo, and promote learning and innovation. When issues are constructively debated, new solutions emerge. But too often I have seen organizations with opposing points of view turn to unhealthy conflict. What’s worse, many leaders are ill-prepared for effective conflict resolution.

I wrote about this in my last post, here. Conflict resolution is one of the most misunderstood and often avoided aspects of leadership. I have seen too many leaders fail to address conflict properly, if at all, which results in varying levels of disruption, disunity, lowered morale and diminished productivity. That’s why resolving conflict effectively and positively is critical for success.

With a dual approach to conflict, where measures are taken to minimize conflict triggers and mitigate conflict once it becomes apparent, everyone benefits.

When working with opposing points of view there are a number of potential outcomes, but only one is beneficial for all:

  • If you concede to one party, the imbalance will make short life of any peace you establish. This kind of peace is likely in appearance only.
  • If you avoid the issues at hand and mandate a resolution, everyone loses. The result may be a conflict worse than the original, and your efforts will fare worse than doing nothing.
  • If you require the parties compete for a win, this also establishes a worse scenario in the long run. The conflict is only inflamed.
  • If you have the parties compromise, which is a partial concession, the peace may last a while, but compromises are soon resented. The conflict typically ends up where it started, this time with an additional issue.
  • The most effective approach is to collaborate and come to a resolution where both sides achieve a sense of win. If both sides can agree to make similar adjustments or concessions, they will have a sense of cooperation and success. The solution is found in the middle ground, where both sides come toward it and meet there.

As a leader, your role is to facilitate a civil collaboration and resolve the conflict with the most agreeable solution. This is a significant skill that many leaders haven’t developed.

The power of conflict resolution is not to decree a fix, but to guide both parties to devise a solution they can live with.

This approach establishes you as a trusted coach, mediator and advocate for each side.

What do you think? What is your approach to effective conflict resolution? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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