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How to Make Employee Conflict Productive 


How to Make Employee Conflict Productive 

Conflict in the workplace is a common problem for all companies, however, in this article, Bernie Heine offers ways to resolve employee conflict and move it from destructive to productive. 

We’re all very familiar with conflict, whether it be in our friendships, familial dynamics, or professional relationships. Conflict is a regular aspect of interpersonal relationships and, when handled productively, can lead to innovative solutions. Not being on the same wavelength with someone frequently occurs in a world of individualism and disparate thoughts. Different backgrounds, values, ideas, personality types, and work habits get in the way of our workspace thriving in unison. And as we strive to increase the diversity of thought in our organizations, conflict too generally increases.

Today, we’re focusing on the most effective ways to resolve employee conflict and make it productive, not destructive.

Identifying the issue

The key to successful leadership is tightly connected to social intelligence and advanced soft skills. Identifying the root cause of the conflict is the first and most crucial step. Depending on the parties involved and their disagreement, you can determine the best course of action to reach a resolution. Once both sides successfully articulate their needs, obtaining information on each party’s standpoint and interpretation should lead to open dialogue and decision-making. As Patrick Lencioni points out in his book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, conflict is inherently good in an organization. However, to be productive, the parties first need to trust each other and be able to be vulnerable with each other.

Putting the kibosh on unhealthy tension

Most employee conflicts are just minor workspace hiccups or can be productive conflicts that help a team uncover innovative ideas. This acceptable kind is constructive and doesn’t interfere with the company’s overall dynamic. We learn from conflict resolution and become stronger because of it. Still, we cannot overlook the possibility of malignant conflicts that can create a damaging domino effect if left unattended, further tainting the company’s reputation and hindering its growth, or worse yet, causing your best people to go. Some disagreements continue to linger if the parties involved aren’t able to work it out themselves. That’s when a leader should step in with assertiveness and constructive feedback.


Key points include:

  • Mastering the conflict technique
  • The four methods of decision making
  • Crucial confrontations

Read the full article, Effective Ways to Resolve/Leverage Employee Conflict, on