The process of finding common ground and reaching sustainable agreement is by definition creative, and has the potential to unlock astounding results.
Conflict is normal, and resolving conflict saves money. That is self-evident. It is the first of two main opportunities positive change that conflict brings.
The second/next important opportunity from managed conflict: creativity.
Conflict is characterised by the fixed positions of two people. One’s position is ‘A’, the other’s is B – there’s little to work with – and compromises are sub-optimal. Positions and compromises contaminate productivity.
It is vital that employees have the skills to move from ‘positions’ to interests. And that starts with Brave Discussions.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Interesting things happen when Brave Discussions are part of a cultural shift in conflict competence. There’s a message that says…
- You have been trained to find real solutions.
- You are expected to find real solutions.
- You are expected to deal with conflict as it comes up.
Brave Discussions are focussed on:
- Me and you vs. the problem [as opposed to me vs. you]
- Solution-seeking through brainstorming.
- Win-win outcomes.
- And of course the ground rules… no walkaways and no power plays.
When these expectations are complemented by the right training within the right culture, there is an obligation on the part of the disputing parties. There is equal responsibility and knowledge of the process and its ground rules. They’re ‘in it together’ and to succeed, they have to be collaboratively creative. That often leads to innovation that for example could be applied to other business units where similar potential conflict change frameworks exist.
Leaders harness conflict to change and generate cost savings, motivation, “presenteeism”, creativity and innovation.