Five Ways That Conflict Actually Benefits You and Your Organization
The word conflict carries negative connotations. As a small business owner, however, you need to realize disagreements and debates actually benefit you and your company. While often unpleasant discussions ensue regarding opposing concepts, these disputes can result in solutions to problems or even a new proposal that is better than either singular entity.
Occasionally, conflicts arise between employees or other business associates that are a result of personality issues rather than an ideological dispute. These types of conflicts can be beneficial to persons and organizations, because the door opens to communication once conflicts are disclosed, such as two individuals engaging in verbal argument. There are times when simmering emotions build up over time, and resolution cannot take place until these grievances are given a voice. When this occurs, you, as a business owner and manager, should step in to help the associates express their concerns, understand both perspectives and find a solution so work can continue. Cardiff University recommends you take care not to side with either individual but simply assist them in reaching a resolution.
New ideas often arise from a state of conflict. This generally occurs when two or more ideas are suggested and a debate ensues regarding which is the best option. For example, if your company is a small childcare center, your staff might have different ideas about how to spend a particular amount of funds. One employee wants to buy educational toys, while another insists on items that promote physical development. Rather than choosing one of these options, the daycare owner might decide the best choice is a product that combines physical activity with a learning component, such as a multi-colored parachute game that encourages both exercise as children manipulate it while teaching colors, shapes and patterns. This conflict between two ideas thus results in a new idea that combines both ideas.
The debate that accompanies conflict has its own benefits. Debating forces individuals to prove their points with evidence as they seek to persuade others. This requires critical thinking and, therefore, is of use to your business. For instance, when you are the owner of a childcare center who holds an employee meeting, you can expect debates regarding issues in the daycare. Rather than squash the disagreements between employees, encourage each to present her own case. This encourages empowerment, as each person is allowed to air her opinions and requires critical thinking as she must defend her position. For an example, a caregiver can argue that the center's "floater" needs to devote the most time to her group as she has 2-year-olds that are potty training, while caregivers of the 3- and 4-year-olds do not have this burden. Other employees might argue that all the different age groups present their own set of challenges.
When you and your staff learn to deal with conflict effectively and use it purposefully, everyone grows professionally. Conflict resolution skills are necessary as life and work is peppered frequently with personality disparities and professional disputes. For instance, if you own a clothing shop and one employee complains that another is rude to customers, and the other employee accuses the first of often leaving work early, you might suspect a serious personality conflict is at the root of the problem. In this case, it is advisable to meet with the employees together as you mediate. Teach them how to present their cases in a professional manner, identify the root issues causing them not to work well together and brainstorm solutions and create a plan to deal with their issues.
Conflict in an organization can be good because it often reflects commitment and caring of its individuals. When someone is willing to go to bat for an idea, he is dedicated to his work and the success of his company. You want your employees to be engaged in their work, so when conflict occurs it is a result of this passionate intensity. Star Leadership, Inc., suggests that conflict causes employees to reassess their goals, develop their skills and improve their effectiveness. No business owner wants to encounter silence during employee meeting, as this suggests employees have "zoned out" and are indifferent to what is happening in their workplace.