Enabling Constructive Conflict at Work | Thomas.co

We’ve all experienced conflict at work. We may have seen or experienced a type of conflict that affects morale and in turn productivity. It could be arguments and people not talking within and across teams that create this kind of destructive pattern. 

But, there are different types of conflict which can be beneficial. Constructive conflict is about embracing different views. The idea is that these differences promote conversations and solutions, moving a business to achieve its goals.

Why is some positive conflict helpful?

As discussed, positive conflict can help businesses achieve their chosen goals when used correctly. So, why is some positive conflict helpful? Here are some reasons. 

Can lead to improved processes; highlighting inefficiencies

Different views can point to practices that don’t work as efficiently as they could. This in turn makes departments and businesses operate to fix the problem and improve overall business performance.

Opening communication between employees

Siloed teams can find it hard to integrate because there are few points of communal interest. However, getting staff involved in different projects and with different teams, opens communication and forces that conflict of ideas to be used for progression. 

Good examples to use in the future

We all learn by previous experiences. Good conflict shows us that differences can be a powerful tool to unleash potential and goal completion in the workplace.

Resolving less helpful conflicts

We understand that the idea of encouraging constructive conflict can be quite worrying. We have all experienced what negative conflict can do to a business, the staff and general morale. Being able to resolve these types of conflicts is essential, and we would only encourage promoting healthy conflict once you have. Here are some tips on how to resolve and encourage constructive conflict. 

Between peers 

Resolving conflict between peers can be difficult. In some cases, peers are trying to stamp authority, get ahead or there are deeper personal issues we may not be aware of. Resolving these conflicts is essential for better working environments generally. People in and around these open issues will feel part of the conflict without having anything to do with it; reducing morale and productivity. 

To resolve this take positive steps. Speak in private, air the issue, use positive language (we instead of you), be respectful and watch your body language and tone.

Between management

Conflict does arise in management. This could be something personal or professional that employees, now managers, have developed over years. Strong opinions or habits can impose themselves into work situations. Again, resolving this is a priority. Mixed messages at senior level can lead to objectives being missed. Furthermore, management influences the atmosphere around the organisation, creating a negative impact at different levels. 

Senior management needs to resolve these issues. Taking a proactive and positive approach and possibly bringing in a third party to help move things forward will improve this negative conflict over time. 

Between employees and line managers 

It’s common to experience a conflict between employee and line manager. In this case, it could be that management doesn’t respect the employee or that the employee doesn’t feel listened to when it comes to providing solutions or presenting ideas. 

The employee should feel that they can air their grievances with their manager but, if they are in conflict with them, what do they do? It may be that a member of the HR team is used to mediate between employee and manager or that someone senior to the manager sits in to help resolve the issue. Both parties must not feel under attack and should recognise that resolution is the best way to move forwards. 

Not all conflict is bad, in fact, promoting a constructive conflict can help businesses drive forwards and achieve their goals. Being able to assess potential negative conflict and behaviours before they arise is a tool that cannot be underestimated. Be sure to clear up negative conflict before moving on to promoting healthy conflict in the workplace. 

Enable constructive conflict with Thomas

Our suite of psychometric assessments provides you with a robust and objective way of increasing self-awareness, giving your people the ability to understand themselves and others so they can modify their behaviours to avoid any negative feelings in the future.

Alternatively, speak to one of team.