Disagree. We do not always see eye to eye. It happens in every organization. A question is, “to what degree?” Most minor squabbles are self-correcting or resolved quickly. Big battles can destroy entire businesses. Those are the ones that need to be stopped. Good leaders smell the fumes of organizational brush fires and race to squelch them. Quickly.

Symptoms? Dissension about new product features. Friction over who owns responsibility for a process. A clash regarding a sales territory. Incompatibility with a key staff member.

Leaders in the know utilize several strategies to quell harmful conflicts. But first it is critical to really understand the nature of the discord. Some questions will help pull the pieces apart:

Who is involved, why has the disagreement formed, what is at stake, where in the organization (and outside of it) are the effects of the conflict, and when is it showing up?

Once these and other questions are understood, it is time to get all the opposing people together. Then get everyone’s inputs and opinions. And especially their suggestions for resolving the dissension. Fairly.

In 2008 publisher CPP Inc., publishers of the Meyers-Briggs and Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode instruments, did a study on workplace conflict. One finding in the United States was that employees spent an average 2.8 hours per week managing conflict. That amounted to nearly $360 billion in paid wages; the equivalent of 385 million working days. Massive. Important enough to prompt efficient conflict identification and resolution. And prevention.

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