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The Effect of Poor Conflict Management on Employee Relations

Employee Retention & Turnover - Facts & Stats

Developing individual conflict competence is an important factor in improving an organization’s capabilities to effectively manage conflict.  Managers and employees always agree that workplace Conflict is inevitable. Disagreement often occur among the employees or between the employees and the management. Therefore, conflict management strategies should be put in place to ensure that people in the organization are working in collaboration with the aim of achieving the goals of the organization. The presence of poor conflict management strategies leads to hostile working environments, and hence the retention rate for the employees is low. No employee can plan a long-term career in an organization where there is conflict. Thus, workers can stay in the company only for a short period and immediately after they secure what is perceived as a better working environment they leave for it. The low retention of employees affects the delivery of services and goods and thus impact the decline of the current and potential customers. The regular recruitment of employees lead to wastage of time for the company, and its activities are affected. As a result, poor conflict management leads to waste of company resources while increasing cost.

An organization’s poor conflict management process is directly related to poor employee retention. Every individual needs to work in an organization where he or she feels engaged and able to contribute. Unresolved workplace conflicts that become “bad” trigger other emotions that can later escalate to unwanted liabilities. As such, conflicts that arise in the working environment are to be solved in the shortest time possible. Additionally, the absence of proper systems to manage conflicts cause the individuals working in a particular firm to either leave or look outside the organization for help.

Companies that have poor conflict management strategies do not have a good platform where the employees can present their complaints concerning issues in the organization. The lack of such platforms often lead to increased conflicts and directly contribute to low retention rates.   It is important for a firm to ensure that it manages boiling conflicts before they goes too far. Timing in relation to workplace conflict management is of great importance.  Ideally, except in the case of extreme legal cases; the standard time for resolving complaints brought by employees should not exceed a maximum of 72 hours.  Failure to listen to the employees create a feeling of carelessness, and hence they may opt to borrow a listening ear elsewhere. Additionally, the human resource department may be good at listening but occasionally slow at acting, as a result, the conflict becomes uncontrollable. In the future when such a situation repeats itself, the employees will be more likely to leave the company rather than waiting perpetually for an answer.

It’s common for employees to stay in a company while still looking for another place where they can work happily. Therefore, the service delivery of these workers is poor. They do not keep the interests and goals of the organization at heart. Most of the employees in a firm that does not embrace proper conflict management are only focused on earning but not service delivery. Majority of the employees in the company apply for jobs in other organization. They are highly likely to link with other employees from companies where gossips, performance issues, tardiness, morale and harassment are not the focus. They always wish to know when those companies are recruiting new workers so that they can leave the current form. Such employees do not deliver quality services, or contribute to production goals and as soon as they get a chance to leave the firm, they do not hesitate to join the other organization.

Guidelines for Conflict Resolution in the WorkplaceNo employee would wish to be associated with a company that is known for poor employee and workplace relations. Conflicts are bound to arise between the employees and the management. The problem may be influenced by the employee or the managers. However, some conflicts arise due to the actions or avoidance of both the parties. A designated conflict manager should be on the front line to ensure that all conflicts that arise between managers and subordinates are solved. Additionally, the managers and supervisors should be trained on how to treat workers when voicing their concerns.  The lack of good channels to solve conflicts in the organization is a direct cause of employees feeling undervalued and unappreciated.  Hence, directly affecting retention rates

Managers and employees that we speak with always agree that workplace conflict is inevitable.  The focus therefore becomes how to manage conflicts to get the most out of it.  Most organizational leaders and individual contributors speak of their conflict management style as avoidance.  They also agree that it rarely works.  Instead, avoidance allows the events to fester into stressful and frustrated scenarios.  In organizations where conflict is not managed effectively, employee relations suffer, managers are required to spend more of their time addressing it, good employees leave, people are distracted from their work, and, occasionally, complaints, violence, and even lawsuits can develop.  Poorly managed conflict directly affect production and creativity because people tend to pull back when they are in conflict.  When people communicate less about issues, the quality of decision-making can suffer for lack of sufficient input.  If conflict is inevitable and poorly managed workplace conflict is costly.  What can organizations do?

We encourage people to see how they currently address conflict in their organization to evaluate how effective these strategies are.  We ask organizational leaders and employees to reflect on the cost of poorly managed conflicts and the potential benefits that can come from addressing them effectively.  By understanding areas of improvement opportunities, everyone can have a better sense of how the domino effect of poor conflict management, low employee retention, slow productivity and degraded quality and ultimately higher cost come about.

The primary reason for poor service delivery are almost always associated with the unresolved conflicts that are experienced in the organization. The firing of the employees therefore presents only a temporary solution to the problems. Conflicts must first be managed so that the employees can feel psychologically satisfied for them to deliver their work in the best way possible.   A top down individual conflict competence is an important step in improving an organization’s capabilities to manage conflict.  When the organizational culture supports constructive responses to conflict it further enhances individual competence.  From an employee relations and workplace retention standpoint, this helps create the right climate for managing conflict and reducing turnover.

Understanding that conflict is inevitable, we all need to prepare ourselves and our organizations to be able to manage it more effectively so that the outcomes are positive and productive.  This include creating the right climate, and constructive behaviors, which lead people to continue working together when differences arise.  We urge leaders to reflect on how managing conflict poorly can detract from achieving their goals and how enhancing conflict management awareness can improve the chances of achieving them.  When leaders see the relevance of effective conflict management to cost containment, better productivity, and retention, it becomes easier for them to support efforts to change the organizational culture to support the development and implementation of conflict competence.

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