Employee conflicts can be poisonous. We have all experienced the damage to productivity, crushed creativity, and squashed morale. As Kevin M. Campbell, Accenture’s Group Chief Executive, Technology, notes, “All too often, I’ve seen that personal conflicts derail costly projects and important initiatives.” Unresolved employee conflicts are bad enough in a traditional, physical workplace. They are all the more dangerous in a virtual environment, where people don’t have the luxury of proximity to work their differences out face-to-face.
I’m not saying that companies should completely avoid employee conflicts. Quite the contrary. I see conflict avoidance as one of the most corrosive attributes of many company cultures. I’ve always felt, and our research proves, that well-managed conflicts can increase trust, respect, and intimacy among employees within and across teams. The trick is in understanding the basic nature of workplace conflicts.
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