Organizational conflict, or workplace conflict, is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together. Conflict takes many forms in organizations. Wikipedia

Let’s face it; conflict in the workplace DOES exist, and it may be more than simple differences and opposing views.

When you look at your organization, do you see:

  • Jealousy?
  • Competition?
  • Control issues?
  • Tension?
  • Frustration?
  • Power struggles?
  • Lack of collaboration
  • Bullying?
  • Certain people avoiding certain people?
  • One person everyone avoids?

Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann conducted studies and identified 5 conflict modes, each having a time and place for usage.

The COMPETING mode is most effective when quick, decisive action is required and for important issues that may be unpopular or are vital to the organization.

ACCOMMODATING is useful when preserving harmony is essential.

AVOIDING is useful when there are more pressing issues or when others are addressing the situation and don’t require your intervention.

COLLABORATING is useful when there are important issues on both sides which can not be compromised.

COMPROMISING is useful when there are time constraints and solutions must be obtained quickly.

Note: These are very brief definitions. The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict tool goes into much greater depths. Administering this tool to strengthen teamwork can be invaluable.

Effective leaders understand the value of the 5 conflict styles and readily adapt to the style most appropriate for each situation. It’s up to us as leaders to prevent any conflict from escalating into unhealthy situations. It’s also up to us to encourage healthy differences which can stimulate creativity, inspiration, and improve results.

Don’t let productivity, communication, collaboration, inspiration, morale, and growth suffer by ignoring workplace conflict.

I would submit effectively dealing with conflict is one of the most valuable skills a leader can possess.—Mike Myatt