Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ten Tips to Encourage Meaningful Conflict

Conflict avoidance is most frequently the topic when conflict in organizations is discussed. Conflict resolution - as quickly as possible - is the second most frequent topic. This is bad news because meaningful work conflict is a cornerstone in healthy, successful organizations. Conflict is necessary for effective problem solving and for effective interpersonal relationships. So, knowing how to raise issues and participate in meaningful work conflict is key to your success in work and in life. These tips will help.
  1. Create a work environment in which healthy conflict is encouraged by setting clear expectations.
  2. Reward, recognize, and thank people who are willing to take a stand and support their position.
  3. If you experience little dissention in your group, examine your own actions.
  4. Expect people to support their opinions and recommendations with data and facts.
  5. Create a group norm that conflict around ideas and direction is expected and that personal attacks are not tolerated.
  6. Provide employees with training in healthy conflict and problem solving skills.
  7. Look for signs that a conflict about a solution or direction is getting out of hand.
  8. Hire people who you believe will add value to your organization with their willingness to problem solve and debate.
  9. Make executive compensation dependent upon the success of the organization as a whole as well as the accomplishment of individual goals.
  10. If you are using all of the first nine tips, and healthy work conflict is not occurring ... You need to sit down with the people who report to you directly and with their direct reporting staff and ask them why. Some positive, problem solving discussion might allow your group to identify and rectify any problem that stands in the way of open, healthy, positive, constructive work conflict and debate.

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