Issue 1 – Hidden costs: The price of unresolved conflict in the workplace

Despite not having its own line item, team conflict can kill a company. In this issue, I explore where conflict comes from and how to equip your people with the tools they need to communicate productively. 

Carlo Odicino, CEO at One TEAM Partners

September 13, 2023

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BIG talk

Conflict wastes time, feels personal, and leads to unnecessary tension within the person and the organization. Conflict arises when people aren’t given the tools to effectively communicate with each other. Thriving organizations are built on strong relationships and relationships are built on conversation. There is no relationship without productive conversation.

That being said, conflict is not objective disagreement.

Organizations without objective disagreement stagnate. Yes, objective disagreement can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Objective disagreement is necessary for organizations to learn and make the best decisions. Yet many organizations don’t spend the time that is needed to understand the differences between conflict and objective disagreement nor do they spend the time learning how to communicate with each other in a way that doesn’t turn into conflict.

Let’s unpack these two issues and reveal how I’ve tackled communication to reduce conflict across my – and my customers’ – teams. 

How much is it costing you, really?

You may not know it, but you are spending a lot of money on conflict. According to research by Core Strengths, the annual cost of conflict in the workplace is $359,432,645,000 – three hundred fifty nine billion, four hundred thirty two million, six hundred and forty five thousand dollars – the financial repercussions of strained relationships and decreased productivity that don’t have a line item on your balance sheet but still have a high cost to your business. 

Put simply, companies can’t ignore conflict and survive.

Conflict – the good and the bad

It’s possible to disagree productively, and a good workplace uses differing perspectives to drive creativity and innovation. But when opposition (objective disagreement that leads to smarter decisions) between individuals turns to conflict (disagreement that feels like a personal attack on values), tension is introduced into the workplace and a previously productive culture crosses into dysfunction. 

What conflict does to your company

Productivity plummets

Disagreements, power struggles, and tension lead to reduced collaboration and an overall decline in efficiency. The time that should be spent on deep work or pursuing growth opportunities gets diverted to managing conflict, resulting in less effective communication and output.  

Employee turnover rises

Environments that don’t promote psychological safety (i.e. conflict resolution) experience a higher rate of employee turnover. Expenses toward recruiting, onboarding, and training a new employee increase, and companies risk losing institutional knowledge.

Health is impacted

Workplace conflict doesn’t end at work. Employees can carry that weight home and their well-being can be affected significantly. Prolonged exposure to a hostile environment can lead to stress, anxiety, and even physical health problems. 

Innovation stifled

Employees who are constantly at odds with each other are unable to collaborate on creative solutions. An environment that encourages respectful open dialogue and diverse perspectives is essential for fostering innovation.

How to improve it 

CEOs and other leaders know that conflict in the workplace is uncomfortable, expensive, and counterproductive. Conflict management isn’t putting up with conflict; it’s anticipating, preventing, and resolving it. Organizations have the ability to empower their people to resolve their conflicts and prevent new ones by providing a tool to navigate conflict and create a better culture. 

My go-to: the SDI® 2.0

The Strengths Development Inventory 2.0 (SDI® 2.0) is an award-winning, scientifically validated assessment from the Core Strengths platform. Using Relationship Intelligence (RQ), it provides a common language for understanding what’s important to the individuals on your teams, and how they can work together more effectively. Rather than focusing on what people do, the SDI® 2.0 helps them understand why they behave in certain ways and how they relate to each other. It provides tools for choosing the right strengths to make the right decisions, even in high-stakes situations. 

Interested in learning more?

One TEAM and I believe in this platform so much that I’ve become a certified SDI® 2.0 facilitator. We now offer SDI assessments for your whole team to improve communication and reduce conflict. After an assessment, your team will attend a workshop where I will walk through individual results, the overall team makeup, and what this means for how you can best work together, including how to: 

  • Apply relationship intelligence to put everyone on a productive path to results
  • Discover how to use the right strength at the right time for greater effectiveness
  • Promote healthy opposition and resolve conflict without damaging relationships
  • Mobilize team strengths to execute strategy
  • Develop effective communication that comes from authentic connections

Let’s hop on a call to chat through some of the conflicts you’ve noticed within your team, and pinpoint the specific ways the SDI® 2.0 will minimize unnecessary future costs. 

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