Posted by William on July 23, 2012
Top-down won’t cut it
Cooperative conflict also empowers employees, who are now less likely to accept top-down orders just because a manager “says so.” If employees don’t agree with a decision, they are less likely to effectively implement it. Cooperative conflict “training” can help employees approach their managers with better solutions, or at least with their concerns.
Recently, Jeff Fisher, coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, noted that this was the case with professional athletes. “Ten years ago you could tell a team to line up on the goal line after practice and run ten 100-yard dashes, and they’d do it. Now you tell them to do it and they ask why.” Ten years ago, athletes trusted the coaches’ judgment and didn’t question anything. Now, the coach has to earn the athletes’ trust and respect. Managers are in this same position.
Benefits of conflict management
Along with helping to create an atmosphere of trust and respect in your facility, cooperative conflict management has other benefits as well.
Stimulates creativity. By encouraging a non-threatening, participatory atmosphere, staff members are encouraged to brainstorm and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Catching mistakes. By debating opposing viewpoints, staff members can discover flaws in plans that might not have been initially obvious.
Promotes productivity. When all employees buy into the solution, a company wastes less time refixing problems. You get the best solution and everyone works together to make it happen.
Increased awareness. Employees are often unaware of how their co-workers feel about workplace situations. For example, one person may be doing something that is making another’s job more difficult without even realizing it. The process of cooperative conflict management makes everyone more aware of other employees.
Strengthened self-acceptance. When employees express their feelings and share ideas with a receptive audience, they feel valued. This can make them better staff members with better morale.
Facilitates personal development. Feedback from co-workers can educate employees about areas where they need to improve, and it can help them see how their work habits affect other members of the team.
If you have used traditional, competitive conflict resolution in the past, the change to cooperative conflict management won’t happen overnight. Start by building trust and creating a sense of shared vision among all of your staff members. Then, slowly begin to employ cooperative conflict resolution techniques. Conflict should not be the scary monster hiding under the bed. Instead, view conflict as an opportunity to achieve more than you ever thought possible.