For leaders to manage conflict effectively, they need to firstly identify how they currently manage conflict and understand the benefits of dealing with conflict constructively. Through self-awareness and regulation of their own emotions, leaders will be able to manage conflict effectively using more appropriate communication techniques and behaviours. This sets the scene for their team to develop 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 Competence
- Conflict is inevitable and can lead to positive or negative results depending on how it is handled.
- While people generally see conflict as negative and prefer to avoid it, better results can emerge from dealing with it constructively.
- In order to overcome reluctance to address conflict, people need to recognise the value of managing conflict effectively.
- Dealing with conflict constructively reduces or eliminates the use of destructive behaviours characterised by fight-or-flight responses to conflict.
- 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
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
BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVELY MANAGE CONFLICT:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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