A CPP 2008 study showed that U.S. employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. This amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days.
While many managers hope that conflict will go away on its own, can organizations afford to avoid dealing with conflict?
The study revealed that 25 percent of employees said that avoiding conflict led to sickness or absence from work. Equally alarming, nearly 10 percent reported that workplace conflict led to project failure and more than one-third said that conflict resulted in someone leaving the company, either through firing or quitting.
When conflict arises:
- Don’t ignore conflict. It does not go away on its own. In fact, it magnifies. Handle it now!
- Realize conflict is inevitable and it is valuable for causing change.
- Gather information from both sides.
- Get them together to discuss. They have to work together on a solution that they both accept. Don’t get caught in the middle of separate negotiations.
- Set ground rules for the discussion. For example, speak honestly, use facts, listen to each other, attack the issue (not the person), focus on the future (not the past), don’t use absolutes (i.e. you always, you never)
- Do not take a side. Remain neutral.
- Ask for their suggestions. The solution should come from them, if possible.
- Encourage creativity.
- Discuss implications of all options, including status quo.
- Find a shared resolution. Both parties must agree to the solution or it will never be effective.
- Monitor and follow-up. Don’t expect perfection, people will slip. Encourage them to continue working on the solution.
If the conflict cannot be resolved, call in a mediator. They are trained to deal with difficult situations.
Want a little coaching before dealing with the conflict? Let’s talk: Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com