What do you do when there is a disagreement among your people? Conflict in the workplace is one of the most difficult issues for leaders to deal with. Ending the conflict too quickly, without giving your team a chance to work it out, may just bury the problems and allow them to fester. On the other hand, allowing the conflict to go on too long unresolved can lead to some even more serious problems. So, what should you do?
First of all, it's important to realize that conflict in and of itself is not a bad thing. If you have smart people on your team with strong opinions, then there is naturally going to be some disagreement. The differences can be a good thing, because they can lead to new insights as each member of the team challenges the other. So, before you think conflict is necessary a sign of a dysfunctional team, think again. Conflict is inevitable.
The key to keeping conflict from getting out of hand, I think, is to ensure that your team maintains a collaborative spirit. Everyone on your team should agree on some basics--on the values to which your company clings and the goals to which it aspires. If there is every disagreement on those core goals and values, then you know you've got a problem. The disagreement should always lie in how to honor those values and accomplish those goals. That, I think, is the difference between a healthy conflict that will work itself out in time and an unhealthy one that--left unchecked--will ruin the culture in your organization.