The companies I consult with fall into one of two camps; they know they will have problems if they are not proactive, or they have a problem and it needs resolution now. I have far too few of the first, and more than I should of the second. Periodically I remind my readers that there is real peril in not resolving conflict in a timely manner. I have written before about the adverse impact on profits, on organizational cohesion, and the impact on quality and reliability of a product or service.
Many studies over the past 25 years give ample empirical evidence of the damage resulting from conflicts that are ignored. So why do so many companies shy away from explicitly preventing conflict or confronting conflict once it begins to impact the organization. What is it about a company’s culture and the leadership that shapes that culture? Let’s face it folks; a conflict produces a lot of early warning signs, and it’s the leader’s job to heed those warnings and change whatever is producing those clear warnings. When they fail to act, to adjust, they are failing as leaders.
When I meet with a CEO or his key executives I ask each of them some simple questions.
Do you avoid talking about conflicts that inevitably appear?
How proactive are you in promoting procedures and processes for training managers and employees in conflict resolution?
How aware are your employees of the various techniques and tools available to them to prevent, mitigate, or resolve conflict?
The responses to these three questions varies greatly, and that is why I stay busy.
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