Is conflict beneficial in Organisations?
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By: Sam Ashe-Edmunds

While it may not seem like there are any advantages to a conflict in your organisation, disagreements can provide benefits to savvy both management and workers. Conflicts allow you to identify problems you need to solve, helping you strengthen your organisation. Conflicts can also cause problems that damage your business, and not addressing them in a timely fashion can be fatal to your company.


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Conflicts are disagreements that cause an adverse reaction. Not all disagreements are conflicts. For example, if one employee wants the office temperature at 68 degrees and another wants it at 74, the two might compromise and set it at 72. If one refuses to budge and the other concedes, one worker might find it too uncomfortable, become ill from a cold office or ask to work from home. Disagreements that don’t affect your operations can still be problematic if they cause ill will among employees. This is especially troublesome for small companies where workers must see each other and work together on a daily basis. Conflicts can also involve non-personnel issues, such as two departments needing access to one computer, vehicle or machine at the same time.


The most obvious disadvantage of conflict is the toll on personnel emotions. Employees with high morale are likely to work harder, stay with the company and be more productive. When workers feel they are being bullied, taken advantage of or facing favouritism, they may begin looking for another job or performing poorly. Conflicts between departments can disrupt your production, sales, receivables and ability to pay loans and result in lost business or customers. For example, if your sales department wants to offer 60-day terms to customers to maximise sales, but your accounting department needs receivables within 30 days to pay for materials or wages, this creates a conflict that results in an either/or situation that can damage your business.


Conflicts often arise as the result of weakness within your organisation. The weakness could be a character flaw of an employee, poorly communicated directions, a lack of resources or erroneous assumptions about the best way to handle a process or procedure. Rather than simply looking to end conflicts as they arrive, management should determine why a conflict arises and search for ways to resolve it. For example, if your company can’t offer customers 60-day terms on payments but wants the sales those terms would provide, consider offering a lower sales price, prepayment of part of the invoice or reduced interest rates to keep those sales.

Conflicts allow you to see how your employees react to problems and help you spot personality traits. You might be able to identify which of your employees are bullies, complainers, leaders, problem solvers, mediators or quitters. This helps you identify potential candidates for promotion or employees who need to be terminated. Learn to manage conflict in ways that do not assign blame or pit employees against each other. Ask for their input into solving the problem and look for mutual resolutions that don’t damage the company to placate the feelings of one or a few demanding employees.

SOURCESam Ashe-Edmunds
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