How many dollars did you spend on conflict last week? We don’t often calculate our people problems in dollars and cents. It is costing you money. It is costing you time. It is costing you results. One study showed:
- The average employee spends 2.1 hours a week dealing with conflict (instead of their job)
- One in six say a recent dispute escalated in duration or intensity
- Only 11% surveyed never experienced an escalating disagreement
The negative impact of conflict has led to personal attacks (27%), sick days or absenteeism (25%), project failure (9%).
Reality check – conflict at work is normal and expected!
Leaders can handle it in ways that fuel innovation, ownership and a healthy analysis of objectives. The same survey reports that 70% of employees see conflict management as a critical leadership skill and 54% report their managers could handle disputes better by addressing underlying tensions before things go wrong.
It is my dream for leaders to be equipped and prepared to solve their people problems before they start. It isn’t always possible and there are pieces to be picked up, relationships to restore and results to realign. I’ve messed up in managing my share of people problems. Sometimes I ignore it until its too late. Sometimes I am unaware of how my words or behavior affects others. Sometimes I hit it head on – a little too direct and scare people away from honest dialogue.
No one is perfect at handling these kinds of conversations, but we can get a few more tools in our toolbox to address conflict before it starts. If you need a few more tools, we need to talk.