In the business world, we think of conflict as a destructive force on productivity. Poorly managed conflict is costing businesses millions of dollars per year. Conflict in business is inevitable. Given the variety of personality types in any workplace, and the types of internal and external pressures that exist, it is no surprise that conflict occurs. The question for managers is: how is conflict managed? If managed poorly, productivity, operational effectiveness and workforce morale decrease. On the other hand, when managed competently, conflict can lead to positive outcomes like solving workplace problems and innovation.

Time is Money

Poorly managed conflicts have a cost attached to them. Employees spend about 2.1 hours a week dealing with conflict. That is equivalent to about one day a month. Poorly managed conflict can lead to the loss of customers and employees.

Employee Turnover

When conflicts are not managed effectively, emotions can run high and individuals suffer. About 18% of employees say that people have left the organization because of conflict. About 16% of employees say that people were fired due to conflicts. About 9% say a project failed due to disagreements between those involved.

Poor Team Performance

Conflict reduces team cooperation and may produce dysfunctions when it is poorly managed. The cost to organizations of failing to attend meetings or taking multiple days off to avoid conflict situations quickly adds up costs. About 24% of employees have stayed away from a work-related social event to avoid conflict. About 14% of employees say they have missed a day’s work to avoid conflict.

The Causes of Conflict

What causes conflict at work? About 49% of employees say personality clashes as the primary cause of workplace conflict. About 34% identify stress as a cause of conflict. About 33% identify workload pressures as a key factor. Ambiguity leads to conflict.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Effective conflict management can be good for the team. People need to be empowered to think creatively. They need to be encouraged to put forth their suggestions and ideas without fear. People need to rise above their personal emotions while resolving conflicts. Using the same approach to conflict in every situation will not work. Different circumstances and situations require different approaches. Here are some of the approaches commonly used to manage conflict:

Problem Solving / Collaboration / Confronting

The approach focuses on open discussion looking for the best alternative/solution for the team. This approach leads to a win-win outcome. In this approach everyone collaborates.


Sometimes there needs to be a middle path where both parties decide to give up something. This kind of approach leads to a lose-lose outcome. Both parties may feel they have lost something.


In this approach one of the parties decides to completely avoid the conflict by maintaining silence. This works well in situations where one of the parties in the conflict is emotionally charged up or is angry. Avoiding any conflict resolution provides a cooling off period for the people involved so that they can later come back for meaningful resolution.


In some situations, a person with authority can force his or her opinion without giving any chance to the other party or persons. This leads to a win-lose outcome. This method can be applied if the conflicts are unnecessary and destructive for the team.


In this approach, one of the parties can take charge playing up the points of agreement and playing down the points of disagreements.

Manager Performance Assessments

When managers resolve conflicts teams and individual employees thrive. But when they don't, organizations and people suffer. You can assess the competencies of your current managers by using an assessment tool like the CheckPoint 360 Survey. This survey evaluates the effectiveness of your managers and it identifies areas for growth. It provides an individualized development plan for leadership skills and competencies. The CheckPoint 360 encourages performance that drives results from the top down. Contact us to get started today.

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