The word "conflict" normally carries a negative connotation, but it is important to productivity and growth in many organizations. When conflict is poorly managed or gets personal, however, it causes stressful work relationships and leads to poor organizational morale.
The only way to avoid conflict in a typical organization is to avoid opportunities for growth, improvement or expansion. As top managers formulate strategies, it is natural for them to identify and debate different visions and approaches to achieve goals. Conflict in conversations and work team interaction contributes to greater innovation and creative development,
Kelly Services also points out that conflict supports the development of managers and employees alike in an organization. Open sharing of ideas, tense discussion on important topics and passionate perspectives all cause conflict, but they expose the parties involved to alternative ways of looking at things. Over time, employees build their conflict-resolution skills in a way that makes them more effective at turning conflict into strong ideas.
Conflict-resolution training and ongoing employee coaching are strategies to leverage the benefits of organizational conflict.
The drawbacks of conflict often stem from an organizational culture or worker mentality that prevents successful resolution. Heated conflicts that become personal cause stressful working relationships. It is problematic when employees on a team don't like each other. Personal conflicts in work teams get in the way of collaborative communication, and the stress can distract each worker from carrying out his role optimally.
Conflicts also are time-consuming and costly for companies. Some managers spend the majority of their time resolving conflicts, according to the Business Performance Improvement Resource. Conflicts contribute to about half of resignations, according to BPIR. Turnover resulting from conflicts is costly, as the companies have to recruit, hire and train new employees. In addition, there is lost knowledge that leaves with the resigning worker. In some industries, the costs of replacing a single worker exceed the annual salary for the position.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.