How to Grow from Substantive Conflict in the Workplace

July 2, 2021by Vanessa Rose0

Substantive conflict in the workplace revolves around how the work is getting done. Unlike conflicts that stem from personality conflicts or high stress, this type of conflict reveals gaps in performance as well as the root causes of those gaps. For this reason, substantive conflict can be utilized to strengthen how the team works together and what role the company plays in their individual success.

Benefits of Substantive Conflict in the Workplace

When disputes arise among team members, many managers will ask themselves how to overcome conflict at work. This will usually require learning about conflict resolution and how to de-escalate the conflict so that employees will start getting along. A missed opportunity comes when managers don’t go a step further to reach the underlying cause of the conflict. Substantive conflict in the workplace helps reveal failures within the work system, whether they are differing views about the assignment, what quality of output is acceptable, whether or not the goal of the task is substantial enough, or how policies and procedures may serve as roadblocks to success. This is helpful information for managers to utilize in making systemic change that can improve outcomes. Here’s how to lean into this type of conflict and get the most benefit:

Listen to Feedback

Stress and conflict in the workplace isn’t good to have continuously, however it’s difficult to ignore the possible opportunities for growth that can arise out of disputes that revolve around workplace processes. One of the more frustrating experiences for employees is when they’re communicating a need for change in the organization and it goes ignored. This can lead to greater emotional conflict, long-term displeasure, and low retention. Things should never have to escalate to conflict in order for action to be taken, but if things have already gotten there and managers are still not listening, expect more conflict to continue.

Take Direct Action

Conflict resolution tips in the workplace are important to have in order to mitigate negative impact of conflict on company culture and employee morale. Substantive conflict reveals issues with processes, work styles, productivity, and performance. This type of conflict reveals a lot about an organization and its team members in service to why things aren’t working as effectively as they should be. This is important information to discover and not taking action to improve processes or provide employees with the tools they need to do better would be a huge mistake.

Amplify Positive Outcomes with Training

While substantive conflict in the workplace may have potential for positive change, conflict is still a stressful situation for employees to have to face. Arming your team to have skills to reduce the impacts of conflict is important and something like communication or de-escalation training can help support you toward that end.

Make the best of substantive conflict in the workplace by leaning into feedback and making positive changes for the organization. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Vanessa Rose

Vanessa is a licensed psychotherapist and writer living in Los Angeles. When not on a mission for inner peace and conflict resolution, she enjoys making art, visiting the beach, and taking dog portraits. Always curious about self-improvement and emotional expansion, Vanessa also manages her own website which explores the unconscious and archetypal influences on how we eat, express, and relate.

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