In organizations and everyday life, conflict is often seen as a negative force – something to be avoided or minimized. In my personal life, I am naturally an avid conflict avoider – so, I get it. However, the reality is, that conflict is inevitable. It is simply a part of being human.
Let’s explore some of the positive, or functional outcomes that conflict can provide in organizations.
1.Conflict can encourage innovation, creativity and change: When organizations or teams are stuck in an ineffective way of doing things, conflict can help move things along. It can help to identify alternative solutions and push individuals and groups to find new approaches to problems they may have been stuck with for a long time.
2.Conflict may lead to improved relationships: Conflict often requires individuals and teams to articulate and clarify their positions, which can increase understanding and pave the way for improved relationships.
3.Conflict may enhance individual & group performance: By going through conflict, teams and individuals surface conflict and tension that holds them back. When resolved effectively, conflict can create a ‘clean slate’ and allow teams to get back to what they do best.
How much conflict is the right amount?
Conflict in organizations is a game of balance. Little or no conflict may result in stagnation, poor decision making and overall ineffectiveness, while too much conflict may lead to organizational breakdown. Instead, a moderate amount of conflict, handled in a constructive way is key to maintaining an ideal level of organizational effectiveness.
Thus, instead of aiming for no conflict, we want to manage a moderate level of conflict within our organizations and work to reduce negative consequences, while enhancing positive impacts. Stay tuned for our next blog post on how organizations can leverage conflict for positive change.
Want to learn more about how your organization can benefit from the positive impacts of conflict? Contact us for a consultation today!
Rahim, M.A. (2011). Managing conflict in organizations. Transaction Publishers.