Poor leadership is one of the biggest issues of workplace conflict. One of the reasons is management’s failure to model the right behavior. Research clearly shows that employees benefit from managers and leaders who model the right behavior. While it is everybody’s job in a company to deal with conflict appropriately, much responsibility lies with senior leaders and managers to implement a firm-wide understanding of how conflict is handled. Where senior leaders and managers model right behavior to employees at all levels, research shows that morale increases as does productivity and conflict decreases.
An important subset of modeling right behavior in an organizational setting involves modeling right moral behavior. By that, I mean creating a moral atmosphere based on trust, brotherhood, and the seeking of the good of all involved in the firm. This requires programs that teach senior leaders, managers and employees strong interpersonal communication, effective negotiation skills, and ways in which to collaborate to solve problems. By emphasizing building relationships, the company sets the tone for collaboration among the people within and sends the message that everyone counts and is to be respected. This enables the employees to draw from a new skill set to recognize conflict early, not become paralyzed by it and use it effectively to produce deeper relationships and personal growth. This is the way to build an atmosphere of trust and emphasize brotherhood within the firm.
Clashing egos and warring personalities are a large part of workplace conflict. In most companies, these battles undermine productivity, affect a firm’s mission, and can even cause permanent damage. However, where there are required training programs that are rooted in facilitative processes, employees at all levels are less likely to engage the ego. That does not mean the conflict will not arise. Of course, it will. It is human nature. But now, there is ingrained in the employee, manager, or even senior leader, a new set of skills from which to draw. He or she can draw from it and feel secure that who is at the other end of the conflict will be drawing from it too. This is empowering and calming and encourages deeper personal growth and stronger relationships. Additionally, there is an innate sense of security in knowing that the company embraces a facilitative approach to conflict that has at its base policies that support a collaborative, fair, and reasonable approach to a resolution if they cannot do it on their own.
This atmosphere is one where right moral behavior dictates actions and transforms the way the company handles conflict such that conflict is no longer seen as a negative. Now the company is in the driver’s seat because it has taken charge of the weakness within the ego by giving the human being behind the ego tools with which to handle its own or someone else’s need for attention or control and backed it with the company’s policy that an out of control ego will not drive conflict within this organization.