Data gathered in a recent Wiley survey stated that unhealthy conflict costs companies in terms of both productivity and revenue. Some of the statistical data:

  • Leaders spend an average of 13 hours a month dealing with conflict.
  • 70% of polled leaders state that conflict negatively impacts efficiency.
  • Unhealthy conflict is responsible for an average of 40% of retention issues.

These are staggering numbers for organizational leaders trying to increase efficiency, maximize revenue, and retain their most talented associates. In his book Working Relationships: Managing Successful Relationships in Business and Life, John Chisolm states that 90% of workplace professionals say their organizations never provided them with a healthy model for dealing with conflict. Leaders who encourage conflict gain more alignment and buy-in from their teams driving increased efficiency.  Conflict not only leads to better results, but also happier teams! So how do we go about encouraging healthy conflict?

First, start with you. If you haven’t studied yourself in conflict, you will get it wrong from the start. Performance feedback tools like behavioral profiles or 360-degree feedback can help us develop a deeper sense of self-awareness. 

Once we better understand our “unhealthy” trigger-based behavioral characteristics, we can work to manage our responses in conflict. This means managing words, tone, and body language. This is difficult to do without devoting time to self-development—whether it’s discussing our unhealthy habits with co-workers and loved ones or simply reading about self-management.  Bottom line, personal game film will help you develop healthy conflict behaviors such as active listening and empathy.  The stakes are high for unregulated conflict responses, especially for leaders. 

Next, we must invite conflict to achieve the best results and, in the end, a healthier organization. Even though it may seem easier to avoid conflict, leaders must steer themselves and their team in healthy conflict to have increase efficiency in decision making. 

This is hard work. The undisciplined leader will hear what they want to hear and (unhealthily) respond without managing their emotions. But the disciplined leader squares up to a challenge of productive conflict and commits to learning tools and methods to help foster this healthy behavior. 

Your organization and its people deserve leaders who work to get in front of negative and unhealthy responses to conflict. By encouraging a healthy exchange of perspectives, leaders drive dialogue and gain feedback from talented problem-solvers at all levels. 

The solution to foster a workplace where employees have the tools and capabilities to deal with conflict in healthy ways may seem counterintuitive. Instead of trying to avoid any future conflict, focus instead on approaching it head-on. Discover how you deal with conflict and develop your habits and skills accordingly. Rely on feedback from outside sources to guide you. Once you understand how you healthily endure conflict, you can help your team develop the same skills.