Build A Stronger Team Through Conflict
With so much negative media, it’s no wonder that we fear conflict. However, the real problem isn’t conflict. It’s when we ignore conflict and let it build that disagreements between people escalate into battles.
Considering the cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and even psychological diversity in the world (and in your office), it’s no surprise that people see things differently. Diversity is strength, if those differences are managed constructively. Conflict becomes destructive when it takes attention away from important activities, undermines morale, polarizes people and groups, and leads to irresponsible or harmful behaviors.
Early indicators of conflict are recognizable, and there are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work. In other words, although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved. A good way to begin chipping away at the conflict in your team is for you and your employees to identify your styles of dealing with conflict. Encourage employees to answer these 15 questions on their own, and then discuss the results in a staff meeting.
For each statement below, mark the number that is most accurate, from 1 (rarely) to 5 (always).
Write your scores next to the number for that statement. Then total up the columns. Your primary conflict style is the category with the highest total. Your secondary style is the category with the next highest total.
Here’s what the scores suggest:
If you are Style B, you are Accommodating. You tend to give in to others, sometimes to the extent that you compromise yourself. Conflict worsens over time, which causes conflict within you because there is an element of self-sacrifice in this approach.
If you are Style C, you are relying on Competing as a conflict strategy. You try to get your way, rather than to clarify and address issues. Competitors love accommodators. Although conflicts seem minimal on the surface, turnover and negativity are likely in the team.
If you are Style D, you are Compromising. You use a mutual give-and-take process to resolve conflict. This is most effective if two people both want exactly the same thing and it can be divided up or shared. Otherwise it’s better to work a little longer to find a mutually pleasing solution.
If you are Style E, you are a Collaborator. Congratulations! You try to get everyone working together, meeting as many current needs as possible. In all likelihood, you cultivate ownership and loyalty.
Strive to develop a collaborating culture in your office. Encourage everyone on your team to acknowledge, deal with and appreciate their differences and disagreements. Address conflict up front. It will lead to more open communication, higher productivity and increased professional and financial success for everyone.
If you would like to improve your ability—or your team’s ability—to manage conflict constructively, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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