Joseph Grenny shares his latest findings on the cost of employees avoiding conflict in organisations and offers guidelines for confronting colleagues in a timely and effective manner, as demonstrated by the most successful communicators.
by Joseph Grenny
Joseph Grenny is the four-time New York Times’ best-selling co-author of Crucial Conversations (Second Edition), Crucial Confrontations, Influencer, and Change Anything. For more than 25 years, he has served as an expert in organisational behaviour, interpersonal communication, and corporate training. Grenny is also the co-founder of VitalSmarts, an innovator in corporate training and organisational performance. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies and trained more than 650 000 people worldwide. http://www.vitalsmarts.com/
The recession not only took a toll on Wall Street; it left an ugly mark on employee morale and corporate culture. In most organisations, what’s left from the events of the past 18 months is an environment brewing with the right mix of stress and concern to breed an unprecedented amount of conflict. Employees lucky enough to keep their jobs are burned out and overworked. Leaders reeling from blows to their bottom line are doing their best just to stay afloat. And everyone is finding themselves on edge.
Unfortunately, while the conditions are perfectly suited to breeding conflict, human beings are perfectly incapable to deal with it.
According to our recent study, 95 percent of a company’s workforce struggle to confront their colleagues and managers about their concerns and frustrations. As a result, they engage in resource-sapping avoidance tactics including ruminating excessively about crucial issues, complaining to others, getting angry, doing extra or unnecessary work, and avoiding the other person altogether.
But while unresolved conflict is never a positive thing among teams intended to collaborate, innovate and produce, our research revealed the ramifications of conflict go far beyond inconvenient. In fact, avoiding conflict is extremely costly.
In our poll of more than 600 people, we found that employees waste an average of $1 500 (R12 000) and an 8-hour workday for every crucial confrontation they avoid. In extreme cases of avoidance, an organisation’s bottom line can be hit especially hard.
We found that a shocking 8 percent of employees estimate that their inability to deal with conflict costs their organisation more than $10 000 (R80 000). And one in 20 estimates that over the course of a drawn-out silent conflict, they waste time ruminating about the problem for more than 6 months.
What this means is that companies already financially impaled from the effects of the recession will be lucky to make any kind of recovery unless employees learn to step up to and resolve conflict effectively. »