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Growing Your Organization # 5 Manage Conflict

Conflict is inevitable in a growing organization. Conflict can arise from a variety of sources, and between supervisors and subordinates, between co-workers, and between employees and customers. Organizations can choose to see conflict as inherently negative, acting to suppress it at every opportunity, or as inherently positive, leveraging conflict to affect positive change.
Whenever people are required to work together, conflict is likely to arise. Regardless of how compatible members of a team might be, each individual brings along distinct priorities and a unique personality. Conflict can be expressed in numerous ways such as insults, noncooperation, bullying and anger. Its causes can range from personality clashes and misunderstood communication to organizational mismanagement. Its various negative effects can include work disruptions, decreased productivity, project failure, absenteeism, turnover and termination. Emotional stress can be both a cause and an effect of workplace conflict.
Conflict resolution is a daily occurrence at work that can either propel or disrupt the momentum for a leader, a team or the entire organization. The workplace can become a toxic environment when leaders allow conflict to fester rather than confront it head-on. Workplace conflict is a problem that I believe employers should address immediately if they want to create more productive organizations.
Focus on deep-rooted causes rather than superficial effects when assessing conflicts. Parties to a conflict often claim to have issues with the behavior of co-workers or the outcome of company policies and work procedures, but these issues are likely being caused by something deeper. Attempting to resolve the conflict by addressing surface issues will rarely create meaningful change or lasting solutions. Look deeper to address the reasons that incidents occur. Addressing the root cause might sometimes require the intervention of a negotiator or organization psychologist.
Give all parties to a conflict an equal voice, regardless of their position, length of service or political influence. Conflict participants can become defensive if they feel they are being marginalized or are going through a process leading to a predetermined outcome. It can be tempting to take the word of managers over front-line employees, or to take the word of a loyal employee over a new employee, but remember that your most trusted associates are not necessarily infallible. Go beyond simply giving everyone an equal chance to speak; give their arguments an equal weight in your mind when mediating a conflict.
Employers can manage workplace conflict by creating an organizational culture designed to preclude conflict as much as possible and by dealing promptly and equitably with conflict that employees cannot resolve among themselves. A well-functioning work environment is one in which employees communicate with respectful, inoffensive language; show tolerance and acceptance of differences among each other; and demonstrate respect for all individuals in the organization regardless of position, status or tenure.
Cultivating workplace culture requires time and consistence so be committed to building a conflict management system that works and keep at it till it is established. This ought to be done right from the start of the organization instead of waiting till the organization starts growing. Culture like morals should be emphasized in the infancy stage of the organization and as new staff go through the on boarding process.

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