You can expect your business to experience conflicts between employees, as well as between customer service personnel and customers. Conflicts may also occur between buyers, vendors and stakeholders. Wherever people work together, conflicts arise. If you periodically evaluate how your company manages conflict, you can reduce the amount of disruption your operation experiences when conflicts arise. The effectiveness of your evaluations depends on the type of culture you establish for your business.

Cooperation vs. Competitiveness

Consider evaluating the culture of your company along a dividing line. On one side are companies that emphasize cooperation. If your company falls into this group, you use a lot of teams for projects and emphasize inter-departmental coordination on initiatives. Your assessment of conflict management will examine how well managers resolve conflicts in favor of persuading employees to help each other. On the other hand, if you fall into the group of companies that reward individual effort and encourage competition, your conflict management assessments would focus on whether managers reward outstanding employees by resolving conflicts in favor of innovative and aggressive individuals. You might even encourage managers to allow some conflicts if they serve the goal of increasing competition.

Identifying Individuals, Issues and Solutions

They way your managers determine which individuals to deal with in a conflict depends on your company culture. In an authoritarian culture, your managers may look simply for the wrongdoer. If you have a coaching or mentoring culture, you may seek out all individuals involved and try to counsel them about resolving their conflict. Similarly, your managers will see issues according to your culture. For example, in a teamwork environment, the issue may be cast in terms of who is being a team player and who is not. In a culture that emphasizes individual initiative, managers may see the issue in terms of who is initiating change and who is resisting it. Solutions will seem apparent in different ways too. For example, a manager in a culture of transformation may look for new ways to resolve a conflict, whereas a traditionalist may resolve conflicts in favor of maintaining the status quo. Assessing your managers' conflict-management skills in these cases will depend on your company values.


You can't always resolve conflicts through compromise. In some cases, one of the parties may have to concede. If your company culture values reputation and saving face, your managers may have difficulty persuading someone to concede. Your evaluation of that manager's effectiveness would have to take into account your company's emphasis on personal reputation. On the other hand, if your culture emphasizes cooperation, concessions may be seen as evidence of being a team player. You would evaluate your managers' effectiveness based on their ability to restore an atmosphere of teamwork by getting concessions.


Avoiding conflicts may seem like a plus or a minus, depending on your company culture. Managers in highly competitive cultures may see conflict avoidance as a weakness, whereas a company that emphasizes rational decision making and level-headed planning may see avoidance as a valuable goal. A manager in this culture who finds ways to reduce conflicts through planning would receive a favorable assessment.