Facts about Conflict

A healthy perspective on conflict includes acknowledging these important facts.

  • Conflict is inevitable in any work environment.
    Dispel the myth that the absence of conflict is characteristic of a well-run organization. To cultivate a healthier perspective about conflict in your healthcare practice, promote effective resolution of conflict instead of its denial or avoidance.
  • Conflict can be unintentionally caused by certain policies and procedures.
    Managers make decisions that can create mixed messages and misaligned incentives for the staff. Recognize the law of unintended consequences and promptly take action to resolve confusion.
  • Conflict resolution takes commitment.
    Begin your commitment to effective conflict resolution with an objective assessment of conflict within your organization.

Conflict Assessment

Employee and patient satisfaction surveys, turnover rates and exit interviews are all indicators of inter-staff or organizational turnover. However, gauging the intensity of the conflicts, identifying the contributors or developing strategies to address them may require the active participation of a conflict management specialist.

We provide in-depth audits that involve:

  • One-on-one interviews with a cross section of personnel
  • A review of policies and practices and recurring problems
  • An assessment of conflict resolution skills already present in the medical staff and leadership

Using data gained from these activities, we can:

  • Gauge the scope and intensity of workplace conflict
  • Quantify employee attitudes about and awareness of conflict as well as its impact on their performance
  • Assess the workforce’s skills and motivation to effectively address workplace conflict
  • Determine employee opinions regarding the management’s reaction to conflict and efforts to address it
  • Identify the organizational and system contributors to conflict

For more information, see Debriefing Conflict.

Preventing Conflict, Not Avoiding It

Preventing conflict isn’t the same as avoiding it.

Conflict isn’t “taken care of” by moving disputants to separate units, or rushing to identify a “guilty party” and sending that unfortunate individual packing. These hasty actions do little to address the real causes contributing to conflict. They usually generate lingering resentment that damages relationships and communication, long after the quick fix.

In contrast, conflict prevention requires proactively preparing your organization to handle conflict in a healthy ways. Changing the culture of conflict involves:

  • Seeking out policies, practices, and personnel that contribute to conflict
  • Examining past and present conflicts to identify predictable or correctable patterns
  • Normalizing attitudes regarding conflict
  • Investing time, energy, and resources toward promoting effective conflict resolution.

For more information, see Preventing Conflict.

Dispute Resolution Systems

It takes a comprehensive approach to address the costs and complications of workplace conflict in the clinical setting. But in the long-term, healthy dispute resolution will increase your team’s productivity and unity.

Dispute resolution is:

  • A worthwhile investment.
    The economic and logistical benefits of a dispute resolution program are documented in a research study commissioned by the American Arbitration Association.
  • Best implemented with a locally constructed, customized approach.
    Business and management literature is replete with studies highlighting the benefits of conflict resolution. But it takes more than just reading articles to solve conflict. Our team meets personally with your key constituencies to customize the best conflict resolution practices for your organization.
  • Empowering your staff, not the lawyers.
    With the potential threat of malpractice cases, EEOC challenges, or a unionized workforce, healthcare executives have enough legal issues to deal with. Resolving workplace disputes doesn’t have to be another one. Choosing to use proven conflict management methodologies such as coaching or mediation empowers your staff to effectively resolve disputes on their own.
  • Protecting your organization from liability.
    In many instances, disputes are between individual practitioners. But left unaddressed, disputes can escalate to the point that your hospital or practice becomes liable for the consequences. Providing ways for the disputants to resolve issues among themselves can protect your organization from unnecessary harm.
  • An effective option for union member disputes.
    Dispute resolution systems are not usually intended to replace the grievance procedures in union agreements. Yet interestingly, union members are often among the first to use them as a method for effective resolution.

The dispute resolution services we recommend for your team may include:

  • Conflict and communications skills training
  • Peer or professional coaching
  • Peer or professional mediation

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