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Conflict Resolution - Managing Workplace Conflict

It goes by many names -- conflict prevention, conflict resolution, conflict management, the names go on. These terms were all created to combat a similar problem. For the most part, people who deal with these issues all agree with the same principle:

Conflict resolution at an early stage is less costly and more manageable than trying to deal with its repercussions later.

First, let's discuss the types of conflicts we have observed in our years of experience working with organizations.

We have observed 3 major types of workplace conflict:

Task Conflict
Task conflict arises among members of work teams and specifically affects the goals and tasks they are striving to achieve. Differences in vision, intentions and quality expectations often lead to task conflict. Employee relationships may initially appear to survive task conflict but an important project may not. It is essential to channel task conflict so that these differences become collaborative and improve the way the team thinks about accomplishing current and future tasks.

Process Conflict
This form of conflict centers around the steps or methods used by a team to reach a goal. One person might like to plan 100 steps ahead while another might like to dive in head first. These differences in process can lead to communication breakdown and ultimately conflict. But, like task conflict, process conflict can be useful, if managed correctly. Healthy differences in process often will lead to an IMPROVED way of achieving goals.

Relationship Conflict
Often misunderstood, relationship conflict undermines and tears at the fabric of a team's ability to achieve goals effectively, efficiently and profitably. Relationship conflict penetrates all aspects of an organization. When people in a workplace fail to communicate effectively, entire work teams or even an entire organization will suffer. This type of conflict will quickly consume all the attention and energy of an organization, leaving little time to accomplish profitable tasks.

What can you do to bring conflict to a reasonable resolution? And how can it be beneficial to everyone involved? The goal is to increase the benefits achieved from encouraging task and process conflict while at the same time reducing, managing and understanding the negative effects of relationship conflict.

The benefits of effective conflict resolution are great:

*Improve organizational decision making
*Inspire employees to articulate and clarify their ideas and positions
*Stimulate innovation, creativity and forward thinking
*Improve individual and group performance

If no resolution is sought for conflict the affects are often devastating:

*Job stress and burnout rises which typically increases absenteeism and turnover
*Distrust and suspicion develops often creating an "us versus them" culture
*Job satisfaction and performance falters
*Employee loyalty and commitment declines

About the Author
Kelly Graves is the founder and CEO of Internal Solutions Consulting. With over 85 years of combined experience in organizational conflict resolution, Internal Solutions is able to quickly address conflicts within an organization to facilitate a more successful, productive and profitable communication environment.

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