Developing Leaders: Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

For leaders to effectively perform conflict resolution in the workplace, they must first identify how they currently manage conflict and understand the benefits of dealing with conflict constructively. Through self-awareness and emotional regulation, leaders will be able to manage conflict effectively using more appropriate communication techniques and behaviours. This sets the scene for their teams to develop these norms when dealing with conflict within the organisation.

What is Conflict Competence?

Conflict competence is the ability to develop and use cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills that enhance productive outcomes of conflict while reducing the likelihood of escalation or harm. (Craig Runde Nov 21, 2013)

Some Key Principles of Conflict Resolution Competence

  1. Conflict is inevitable and can lead to positive or negative results depending on how it is handled.
  2. While people generally see conflict as negative and prefer to avoid it, better results can emerge from dealing with it constructively.
  3. In order to overcome reluctance to address conflict, people need to recognise the value of managing conflict effectively.
  4. Dealing with conflict constructively reduces or eliminates the use of destructive behaviours characterised by fight-or-flight responses to conflict.
  5. In team settings, conflict competence includes creating the right climate to support the team so they can have open and honest discussions of issues, develop trust and safety, promote collaboration, and enhance team emotional intelligence.

Cost of Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict has many hidden costs to organisations such as:

  • Wasted time
  • Lower motivation, lower productivity
  • Increased turnover and absenteeism
  • Grievances, complaints and lawsuits
  • Reduced creativity and poor decision making
  • Employee stress/ mental health issues
  • Unhealthy culture

Workplace conflict is often associated with stress. Workplace stress is estimated to cost the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year. Stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism directly costs Australian organisations $10.11 billion a year. On average, 3.2 days per worker are lost each year due to workplace stress. Econtech (2007), “Economic Modelling of the Cost of Presenteeism in Australia”, commissioned by Medibank Private source.

Image of corporate professionals arguing, intended to visualise the need for conflict resolution in the workplace.

Benefits of Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

  1. Reduces costs
  • It enhances the ability to make better business decision
  • New initiatives are implemented more effectively and with more cohesion
  • Generates increased return on investment by getting teams and workforces all pulling in the same direction.
  • Reduces recruitment and training costs due to better employee retention
  1. Increases performance, productivity and motivation
  • A more cohesive workforce reduces absenteeism
  • Improves the quality of decision making and reduces the amount of re-work required
  • Foster an environment of creative innovation which helps drive the organisation forward
  • Enhances workplace communication, team functioning and effectiveness
  1. Retain your top performers
  • It helps to strengthen supervisory relationships
  • It keeps your teams engaged and openly communicating with each other
  • Empowers your people to make a positive difference
  1. Manage risk
  • Prevents aggression, violence, sabotage, and vandalism amongst disgruntled staff
  • Mitigates legal risks
  • Fosters a better public perception of your organisation’s brand and reduces bad word of mouth

Additional Resource

To assist you further, we have also included a free tool (The AID Feedback Model) that will assist you in your approach better approach conflict in your workplace. Download it here.

About Us

Future Institute of Australia are leaders of quality leadership development training. We provide meaningful, dynamic, and ahead of the curve nationally recognised training, coaching, and diagnostic tools with a personalised and tailor made approach at the centre of everything we do. Through our understanding of the complexities of different organisations, their cultures, and critical training needs, we improve performance and change behaviour to develop the leaders of the future and contribute to the innovation of corporate, government, and community organisations across Australia.