Functional Conflict – Benefits, Resolution -Explained! with Example

When it comes to conflict, we always have negative notions in our minds. But the reality is somehow different. Conflict is not always negative, and it can bring significant momentum to business by bringing new solutions. The conflict has the potential to bring about changes in all types of business setups when it is explored in a good way.

Based on the negative and positive perceptions of conflict, it is classified into functional and dysfunctional conflicts. In this detailed article, we will focus on functional conflict and explore different aspects of that.

What is functional conflict?

As the name itself suggests, functional conflict helps in the better functioning of the organization by healthy and constructive disagreement between two groups or individuals. It supports the overall business prospects and leads to excellent performance. Some scholars also call it constructive conflict or positive conflict. It is quite surprising for many who believe that conflict can bring positive changes too. Understand this more with an example.

Functional conflict – Example

Employees are encouraged to share their viewpoints on different subjects in a healthy way without any preoccupations. Companies even incentivize those with different viewpoints and keep looking for innovative and new ideas for the company’s betterment. Big business setups create multiple teams for the same functionality to create competition and conflict between them. Managers appreciate best performers among the large gathering of employees. It can be regarded as an example of functional conflict.

How is functional conflict beneficial in workplace?

1) Exploring out-of-the-box thinking:

It has been seen that during the conflict, many employees perform better by applying analytical and out-of-the-box thinking. They explore alternative ways to supersede the other person in a good way. The other employees explore ways to do better in a creative and extraordinary way.

2) Tension diffusion among various groups:

There must be some ways to express the opinion in a positive way; otherwise, it will lead to a high attrition rate or dissatisfaction among the employees. Let’s see, most of the employees believe that their current manager is not an active listener. What will happen to that department? It will lead to tension among employees, and later it will lead to bad performance. Expressing conflict reduces tension and minimizes frustration, high mental exaggerations, biased opinions, distrust, and other negative aspects of the office.

3) Promotion of competition and group cohesiveness:

Positively taking a conflict increases a sense of competition, motivation, and enhanced efforts in performing the work. Effort and output increase manifolds that further become beneficial for the organization. Furthermore, competition can result in increased effort and output. Some experts also stress that conflict creates solidarity and loyalty towards the organization, and management has to work less hard in managing the team for more quality performance.

4) Great way to judge skills:

Functional conflict works like a testing point for employees’ caliber in handling challenges. Positive conflict creates challenges, and an employee has to look for ways to come out from that. It also leads to change in attitude, work culture, and the general perception of working.

How to tackle functional conflict?

  1. There is no denying that it is positive for the organization, but only if it is tackled in a good way. There is a thin line between functional and dysfunctional conflict, and who knows which conflict will take a turn. Here are some ways.
  2. There is no other way than being prepared for the conflict. A business should have a proper and documented process of conflict management and resolution system in place to take conflict into peaceful and production resolutions rather than a hopeless quagmire.
  3. Adopt a clear and decisive leadership quality and try to encourage the functional conflict but suppress or control the dysfunctional conflict in the initial stage.
  4. Follow the transparent policy and ensure that every employee is well aware of the conflict management system.
  5. Take help from a third-party counselor or consultant when you believe the conflict is going out of your hand and has become threatening for management.
  6. Work on the development of a trustful working environment where every employee feels comfortable in sharing their viewpoints.
  7. Give stress on proper training to all employees for effective communication skills, interpersonal skills, decision making, listening, and managerial skills. That will lessen the work of management, and employees may handle their conflict in a significant way.
  8. Provide a platform for employees to air their concerns and issues. Set up grievances redressal systems and spread awareness about that.
  9. Try understanding the unspoken signals of conflict: high absenteeism, low performance, body language, bad work ethics, and many more.
  10. Demonstrating good listening and communication skills in conflict resolution is of utmost importance. Be sure the competent person remains calm and listens to all the issues of the employees before going on to the resolution process.

Why does some functional conflict remain unresolved despite trying hard?

1) Emotional factor –

Many times, emotions come between the official functional that become detrimental to the conflict resolution.

2) Unawareness about the presence of conflict –

You require to acknowledge the problem in order to solve it. When the management is ignorant towards conflict, it is highly likely to become unresolved for a long time.

3) Ignorance factor –

An organization should decide the roles and responsibilities of every staff in a transparent and organized way. But what if the manager is intentionally ignoring the conflict instead of acknowledging and solving it. It will remain unresolved.

The excuse of having too busy: It is one of the common excuses mostly seen in companies when it comes to conflict management. Conflict resolution is of utmost importance, and the management should prioritize it for early resolutions with better time management.

Final Words –

You must have got some insights into functional conflict in this article. Whether a functional or dysfunctional conflict, an organization should remain vigilant towards conflict for better business prospects. The ultimate goal is to perform better while keeping the negative aspects at bay. Avoid, accommodate, compromise, collaborate and do whatever it takes, but ensure that functional conflict remains there, whereas there is no dysfunctional conflict.

Recommended Articles –

Channel Conflict

Dysfunctional Conflict

Leave a Comment