Prevention versus damage control: Invest in what produces change

Here are some sobering stats related to conflict in the workplace.

10% of employees reported missed project deadlines due to conflict in the workplace.

20-40% of most managers spend their work time resolving conflict.

In 2018, there were more than 76,000 workplace discrimination charges in the United States, resulting in more than $50 million in damages for victims in federal courts (EEOC).

These are only a few of the obvious reasons we need to stop confronting conflict on the back end. What we’re doing–damage control–isn’t working.

conflict prevention

When we do the same thing over and over, expecting different results, we’re proving we’re nuts. It’s not productive, and we’re wasting our energy and money from our organization’s budget. That doesn’t make sense.

Let’s consider a better approach: conflict prevention rather than damage control.

Instead of apologizing to clients for missed deadlines and scrambling to pull together the pieces, why not collaborate, build great rapport, and intervene at the earliest signs of conflict to ensure the team works together as well as possible to complete the project on time?

Rather than spending 20-40% of each supervisor’s time to resolving conflict, why not allot 40% of a training team member’s time to conflict prevention training?

Why not avoid shelling out millions of dollars in damages due to workplace discrimination due to escalated conflicts by helping colleagues get to know one another, communicate more clearly and effectively, and learn to respect one another through more regular (and better) training sessions?

The problem of more funding allotted to damage control than prevention is systemic in America. Take a look at our prison system. Or look at the way we deal with the environment. Think about the criminal enterprise of human trafficking and the sad approach to cleaning up that mess. It seems we, as humans, would much rather fund clean-up than prevention efforts any day of the week. We basically seem to agree that prevention is a great potential solution, but we’re hesitant to pay for it. Where’s the proof it’s going to work, right? We need numbers. Meanwhile, the world falls apart.

On a smaller and less catastrophic scale, in the workplace, our organizations collapse. We lose our best employees. Morale suffers. But we’re still hesitant to fund training. We’re still tentative about paying for more than one day of professional development per fiscal year. Let’s cross-train, maybe, but anything more seems wasteful.

Unfortunately the best teachers–in life and in the workplace–are pain and loss.

But here is the GOOD NEWS. While we wait for everyone to get on board and see the writing on the wall, there are actions we can take.

You can proactively participate in conflict prevention FOR FREE in your workplace every single day. Your actions will affect positive change in others, too.

Here are a few simple ways to be part of the conflict prevention solution.

  • Maintain open, competent, channel-rich communication in the workplace.
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation of others every single day. This has a trickle-down & out effect.
  • Put down your phone and open your mouth. Talk to the people you work with whenever possible to build better rapport.
  • THINK before speaking. Ask yourself: Is this Thoughtful, Honest, Important, Necessary, and Kind?
  • Take care of yourself on and off the clock. If you’re holistically healthy, you bring your best self to work and treat others well, too.
  • Pause before you respond to others whether verbally or in writing.

I would love to work with your team to increase awareness and implement solutions around conflict prevention. If you’re interested in soft skills training sessions or webinars on this topic, reach out to me to discuss options. Let’s talk solutions!

2 thoughts on “Prevention versus damage control: Invest in what produces change

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s