March 31, 2006

Conflict Management and Your Business

Conflict is often described as an inevitable or unavoidable phenomenon. It is widely accepted that as long as human beings have to co-exist in any environment that there will be situations of conflict. Conflict in the workplace is an issue that is often overlooked by many entrepreneurs and business persons. While there is a tendency to focus on the things that directly affect the ‘bottom-line’ such as financial and money management, subjects such as conflict management may regrettably be sidelined.{{more}}

There is little doubt that in most situations, the type of conflict that exists in workplaces is of the destructive type. Destructive conflict is disruptive and takes yours and the employees’ attention away from other important activities and the business’s focus of providing the best products at the best prices in order to make a profit. The presence of such forms of conflict can, therefore, be considered to be counter-productive. Hence, forms of conflicts that lead to prolonged animosity or bitterness among workers are certainly not desirable. The entrepreneur and/or manager must do all within his or her power to find workable and mutually satisfying ways of handling these conflicts. Conflicts can be minimised and/or resolved if the correct strategies are utilised.

However, even before attempts are made to implement strategies for resolution, it is essential that the cause or causes of the conflict are examined. In any workplace there can be a multiplicity of factors that can potentially lead to conflict. These may range from personality clashes, poor communication, differences in values, and substandard performance, to a lack of knowledge, not complying with rules, lack of co-operation and employees not happy about the way they are managed or their affairs handled.

Necessarily, the entrepreneur/manager must be able to recognise signs of conflict. He or she must become versed in reading body language and identifying other situations that suggest that a conflict is already present in the workplace or is developing. For example, if as an entrepreneur, manager or supervisor you become aware that there are disagreements, and an increasing lack of respect, you must be concerned. It is time that you take some action to deal with the situation.

Conflict resolution calls for tact, diplomacy and respect. The outcome that is most desirable is one in which all parties involved in the conflict can peacefully co-exist and work together for the good of the business. This means that no party must feel hurt, slighted or insulted. Views must be shared and everyone given an opportunity to express his or her feelings in a respectful manner. At the end of the day it is the business that matters most.