The Cost of Avoidance

When I was younger, I went through great lengths to avoid problems and confrontation. This was especially true when it came to group projects. I was the group member who always ended up with the most workload. Even though I knew and felt it was unfair, I hardly spoke up because I didn’t want to cause drama. Drama meant upset people, and when people are upset, work doesn’t get done. So, I kept quiet, finished the project, received “our” grade and moved on. I conditioned myself to avoid problems.

This habit followed me into the early years of my career. I smiled, got my work done, helped fellow colleagues whenever I could and went on with the day. Things went smoothly. My colleagues and bosses liked me. I was doing well.

So, why wasn’t I happy?

Like many others, I don’t like confrontation – especially when it comes to the workplace. Even though I felt overworked, unappreciated and stressed, I went into work every day and played out the same routine. I couldn’t bring myself to address the problems because I felt that it would ruin the dynamic that had been established. I was afraid to take action.

The Effects of Avoidance

Many people are afraid of change, and similar to my younger self, they remain quiet even when things are obviously bothering them. However, pretending a problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it only results in more conflict, such as the ones listed below.

Lower Employee Morale – When people don’t address problems, they can become consumed by their feelings. Anger. Dissatisfaction. Stress. Confusion. The list goes on. This simply adds more tension to the situation and can develop a hostile environment where people don’t want to come to work, they isolate themselves, or perhaps even lash out at their teams or clients because there’s so much tension.

Decrease in Productivity – When people don’t enjoy what they’re doing, they can’t perform at their best. When they are unhappy, there is an increase in time spent doing non-related work activities, such as gossiping, browsing non-work related sites, or on their personal devices. A 2013 article by Aaron Gouveia from illustrated that “69% of the people surveyed in 2013 said they waste time at work every day.” In Forbes’ 2015 evaluation, this number reached 89%, with 31% wasting an hour or more of their daily workday on personal activities.

Increase in Turnover Rates – The combination of an unhealthy work environment and lack of ambition may lead to increased turnover rates. When people feel like there’s no motivation or passion in the work they are doing, they may seek employment elsewhere. By leaving a workplace, an individual may be able to find a temporary solution to their personal conflict. However, this doesn’t mean that this problem may not arise in their next place of employment. This is a problem for the company as well, as illustrated in a previous blog post.

Developing a Game Plan to Confronting Confrontation

Regardless of who you are or where you work, conflicts will always arise. Thus, it’s important to be confident about your conflict resolution skills. Here are some things you can do!

Get Your eNPS – Getting an eNPS (employee net promoter score) is a great start to resolving conflicts in the workplace. Utilizing businesses like illumyx, you can determine the overall health of the company and will help to identify areas of improvement.

Change Your Outlook on Conflicts – As uncomfortable as it may be, conflicts will always arise. However, changing your perspective can make a world of difference. Think of conflicts as an opportunity to develop and change, rather than something that hinders you. Only through change can growth occur.

Build Trust – Trust between people who work together is extremely important, and once trust is broken, it’s hard to get it back. But it’s not impossible. By being open and accountable, trust can be re-established in the workplace – helping minimize low employee morale, lack of productivity, and turnover rates.

Develop a Clear Mission – Along with trust, having a clear goal gives people direction and builds a bond between employees and the workplace. When people have a common goal, it helps to develop a connection and an environment where growth can happen.

Need help with developing conflict resolution skills within your organization?  Contact The Utech Group.  We have over 25 years of experience working with organizations across the United States break down the barriers that limits their potential.