Positive & Negative Conflicts in the Workplace

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Conflict in the workplace can have different effects depending on how it is managed. A good manager can identify positive conflict and will encourage that kind of employee interaction. Supervisors must identify negative conflict immediately and eliminate it as soon as possible. Understanding positive and negative conflicts in the workplace is an important part of being an efficient manager.

Competition can be a positive or negative conflict in the workplace, depending on the situation. Two peers trying to outdo the other in the pursuit of a goal that benefits the company is healthy competition. For example, two of the top sales people in the company competing to win a bonus for highest monthly revenue will inspire higher productivity and some bad feelings. But the confidence of each sales representative helps to turn those bad feelings into even more motivation. A competition between the least productive sales associate and the most productive sales associate can result in workplace conflicts based on frustration. Managers who choose to spur competition to motivate employees must be certain that the conflict can be contained.

Spurring Creativity
Positive conflicts can be difficult to determine, but when you see your more creative employees arguing about the good ideas they have to help the company, you have positive competition. Proactive people tend to motivate each other to perform at a higher level. Sometimes that motivation can come in the form of arguing or confrontation, but the end result is that both parties are pushed to their maximum productivity levels. As long as management can find a way to keep the conflict healthy, everyone will benefit.

Personal Conflict
Bringing personal feelings and issues to the workplace always creates a situation of negative conflict. Personal issues in the workplace have nothing to do with employee efficiency or company productivity. The company becomes caught in the crossfire of a personal confrontation that is only looking for a battleground. Management needs to step into situations in which an employee threatens another worker or his job and remind the parties that personal conflict is not tolerated in the workplace. Human resources needs to log the issue, and managers should consider severe steps such as employee termination if the pattern persists.

Harassment in the workplace is monitored under state and federal laws and is something every company should be sensitive to. Sexual, physical and verbal harassment sometimes are hidden from management, but supervisors need to look for signs — such as an employee becoming more introspective, evidence of physical abuse or persistent arguing — and then act on them immediately to stop harassment in the workplace and end the damaging conflict.

[Source: www.smallbusiness.chron.com]