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U.S. employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, according to a 2008 study by CPP Inc. 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!
That’s a lot of time and money on conflict.
Of course, you believe your employees are more productive than this! Even if they spend only 25% of the average on conflict (which might be dreaming) you are still losing close to an hour per day, per employee on protecting turf, gossiping, retaliating, talking to others, and preparing for the next round in the battle.
The study also shared 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. Those negatives translate into real financial losses!
As a leader what can you do to lessen the impact of conflict? Here’s some ideas:
Work with your team – Ensure that trust and respect are created and nurtured.
Set the ground rules – Keep people and the conflict separate. Don’t blame the issue on the person. Treat each other with respect. Listen thoroughly before responding. Accept that emotions will be shown.
Learn how to handle it – Conflict is not bad. However, conflict that isn’t handled well can cause problems. So learn how to handle conflict, so that you can lead your team through issues. Rethink conflict as an opportunity to improve as a team.
Teach your staff how to handle conflict – Send your team members on training so that they can constructively manage conflict.
Invite input into solving the conflict – You don’t have to solve every problem yourself. Get input from team members on solving the conflict.
Conflict can have an impact on the bottom line as well as the health of your employees. Learn to handle conflict effectively instead of avoiding it.
Want coaching in managing conflict? Contact me at Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com
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