Motivation can be a funny thing. Hope for a positive outcome can motivate people, but so can the potential for something negative to occur. You may feel this way about the benefits of conflict management. If the positives of honing your conflict resolution skills don't sway you, then the consequences of doing nothing might provide the final nudge.

Conflict Follows People

No matter where your small business happens to be in its lifespan, one thing is a virtual certainty if you have a staff: They are bound to become embroiled in conflict at some point. Or as some people say, "Wherever human beings go, conflict is sure to follow."

Workplace research consistently points to this inevitability. In fact, a study by CPP Global – publishers of the famed Myers-Briggs personality test – found that 85% of employees deal with conflict to some degree while nearly 30% confront it “frequently” or “always.”

Multiple Causes Trigger Workplace Conflict

So why are so many people embroiled in conflict – from sullen withdrawal to overt quarreling – when they should be working?

As was the case with others before it, the CPP Global study found some common causes of workplace conflict:

  • Personality clashes
  • Poor communication/verbal misunderstandings
  • Warring egos
  • Stress
  • Heavy workloads
  • Poor management or leadership
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Clashing values
  • Poor team structure
  • Perceived discrimination

Conflict Can Be Destructive

Even a cursory reading between the lines here should make the benefits of conflict resolution self-evident.

Conflict has the very real potential to wreak havoc in your workplace by:

  • undermining cooperation and teamwork.
  • diminishing productivity, especially if –

    as the CPP Global study found –

    your employees spend an average of about two hours per week engaged in conflict. causing customers to flee to a calmer, more positive environment . spawning employee absences and prolonged illnesses. contributing to turnover. escalating to the point of formal harassment charges and litigation.

Resolution Is the Key

Despite these nerve-racking consequences, the day may come when you have to explain the benefits of resolving conflict situations as quickly as possible. Someone on your staff may not blink in the face of an argument and could take the forceful position that “not all conflict is bad.”

If the research is right, the argument is right, too; conflict can indeed be a positive thing – as long as it is resolved. It should never be allowed to fester in the workplace.

The study found that 76% of employees saw resolved conflicts lead to something positive, such as:

  • A deeper understanding of their coworkers
  • Improved working relationships
  • Renewed commitment to the company mission
  • Better solutions to problems or challenges
  • New ideas or major innovations

Add Up the Benefits of Conflict Resolution

Other benefits of conflict resolution dovetail nicely with upending those destructive threats by:

  • Improving employee cooperation, teamwork and morale
  • Bolstering engagement and productivity
  • Keeping customers happy –

    even to the point that they spread word of your small business to others Reducing employee stress and illnesses Stymieing employee turnover * Lowering medical costs

Employees Share Responsibility

Before you dash off to sign up for a conflict resolution workshop, two final insights might supply the brightest news bulletins of all.

When CPP Global asked who has the ultimate responsibility to manage workplace conflict, more than 60% of employees said that everybody in an organization must pull their weight.

And a whopping 95% of those who received conflict resolution training said that it helped them in some way.

This means you may have plenty of company at that conflict resolution workshop – in the form of your employees, who will undoubtedly learn another lesson from you.

Motivation can indeed be a funny thing.