Friday, October 1, 2010

The Importance of Understanding Conflict Resolution

Conflict exists throughout environments of all kinds. In the workplace, no matter how much you attempt to avoid it, if you work with people the chances are you will have to deal with conflict at some point. People coming from different viewpoints and experiences, and having different perceptions, are not going to agree all the time.

Here is the interesting fact about conflict. Some people see it as completely negative

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while others respond as if conflict is an obstacle that actually presents new opportunities for improvement. The two views of conflict are worlds apart which means the responses to the conflict will be just as different.

Unfortunately, viewing conflict as only an impediment usually results in dictator type responses on the part of management. And anyone who has worked for a manager who issues dictates without getting input knows that style of management frequently generates even more conflict. The truth is that your view of conflict drives your response to it and has a direct bearing on how well the conflict is resolved.

Developing Great Leaders Able to Resolve Obstacles

As a manager, it is important to understand conflict and conflict resolution. This is an oversimplified statement, because unresolved conflict has literally caused projects to fail and even businesses to implode. The way conflict is resolved often defines the business information flow, creates leaders, and becomes an integral component of the corporate culture.

All businesses experience conflict on different levels. Conflict can exist within a particular project or department, or it can exist between company units. There is conflict between employees and conflict between management and employees. There is conflict between the company staff and customers. There is conflict between the employees of a business and its vendors. Conflict also arises between a business and the local government over issues like taxes and regulations.

You notice that most conflict is connected to interpersonal relationships though. That is the conflict which can be the most difficult to resolve, and true resolution is not possible unless the conflict is recognized as an opportunity for improvement.

It is important to understand conflict resolution, because conflict left to fester can lead to lower sales, poor customer service and fewer profits. For example, an employee in the customer service call center dissatisfied with company responses to customer complaints may fail to report calls accurately out of the belief it is a waste of time. An employee in the credit department believing work flows are not productive, but has no voice in the matter, might begin to violate company policies. A project with responsible departments in conflict may lead to project failure as goals are not met.

A manager has to recognize the conflict; identify the true sources of the conflict; and then begin a process of conflict resolution. Effective conflict resolution by a leader will have certain features.

* Recognizes an immediate crisis may only be a symptom of a more serious problem.

* Accepts conflict as energizing for the company and a chance to improve employee, management, department, and company performance.

* Does not use "blame" as a tactic but focuses on the systemic causes of the conflict.

* Compromise is always included as a method of resolution except in rare cases where a forceful and unpopular decision must be made for the benefit of the company.

Managing conflict means finding resolution. Effective leaders will embrace conflict as an opportunity to improve workflows, productivity, customer service, and company performance. That is why management training and leadership coaching always include conflict resolution as a strategy for success.

Academy is a Registered Training Organisation, accredited to deliver nationally recognized corporate and traineeship training to a range of high profile and blue chip corporate clients. For more information, visit Management Training.

Article by Michael Wolf

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