Turn Workplace Conflict
Into Workforce Commitment

Team ValuesThe data is clear. The majority of American workers simply are not engaged, or even worse, they are actively disengaged in their jobs. With only one-quarter of the workforce reportedly “job happy”, business leaders must find creative ways to engage staff and cultivate innovation for survival in the global economy.

Conflict exists in every organization and to a certain extent indicates a healthy exchange of ideas and creativity. However, counter-productive conflict can result in employee dissatisfaction, reduced productivity, poor service to clients, absenteeism and increased employee turnover.

“Conflict is the beginning of consciousness. Conflict helps us to ‘wake up’ and realize that something is not quite right, something isn’t working…we can use the awakening to the conflict as an opportunity for creative change, for improvement.”

M. Esther Harding, Carl Jung Associate

The following tips can position business leader for finding opportunities in reoccurring conflict.

  • Learn. By looking for trends or culture signals among conflict situations, business leaders can offer communication training, make procedure and policy changes or offer creative incentives to create an employee engaged company environment.
  • Connect. Instill, model and encourage an attitude of mutual respect, cooperation and bottom up contribution.Take time to know your team well enough to instill the type of trust and collegial respect that allows for diverse perspectives. Connect with colleagues during lunch, as well as during work hours.
  • Interpret. In most unresolved conflicts, people ‘lose touch with themselves’ and their own needs because of the focus on the other person and what they are doing.  Stepping back and interpreting underlying sources of the conflict, helps bring the focus away from the people and back on the issues.  Start by asking:

What is this conflict about?
What is the issue?
Are there underlying concerns, wants, or needs that are not being met?
Is there any common ground for discussion?

According to a survey conducted in  32 countries by Walker Information, the factors that most influence employee commitment (and one could argue employee engagement) are fairness, care and concern for employees and trust. When leaders take time to turn workplace conflict into employee commitment, they show care and concern, therefore setting the stage from turning disengages workers into an engaged workforce.

How do you turn conflict into commitment?

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