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Just like people, organisations have a personality.


When you examine the behavioural style of an organisation like a Body Corp, you reveal its conflict culture. It may be conscious or subconscious, but every organisation has a conflict strategy, generally established by top management. It may be deliberately constructed to optimise effectiveness, as can be seen in forward-thinking organisations. ‘Conflict Strategy’ discussions are rare.

Conflict Management is generally reactive and based on a conflict culture and history that forms a strategy by default.

The difference can be found in the behaviour and attitude within the system.


Is the organisation engaged with its stakeholders?


How adversarial is the organisation in dealing with stakeholders?

A highly engaged and non-adversarial organisation would be a collaborative one, but we see conflict cultures ranging between collaborative, intimidating, evasive or ambiguous.


To expose a conflict strategy you could ask the following questions:

  • Are conflicts recognized early and resolved before they escalate into major problems?
  • Do people disagree without becoming angry?
  • Is relevant information shared openly, or withheld in secrecy?
  • Do people pretend conflicts don’t exist?
  • Do hostile arguments between people happen frequently?
  • Does it seem that people hardly notice when conflicts occur?
  • Do people pretend everything is ok even though there are openly unresolved problems?
  • Are people apathetic – not seeming to care about anything?
  • Do people get together to resolve conflict co-operatively?
  • Do people know how to resolve conflicts cooperatively?
  • Do people avoid dealing with conflict directly by complaining to others?
  • Do people engage in gossip and feed the rumour mill?
  • Do people get someone else to take care of solving the conflict for them?
  • Do people gang up to pressure those with whom they disagree?
  • Is personal responsibility taken for resolving conflicts to the mutual satisfaction of all parties?
  • Do people work together to find an agreeable solution?
  • Do managers make the decision when there is a conflict between employees?
  • Do people go directly to the person with whom they are in conflict to resolve matters?
  • Do people avoid others with whom they are upset?
  • Do people keep score and try to get even?
  • Is conflict seen as a competition to be won?
  • Do employees often use threats to get their way?
  • Do powerful people often win conflicts by dominating others?
  • Do managers use threats to get employees to do what they want them to do?
  • Do managers dictate solutions when they are in conflict with employees they supervise?
  • Do reprimands occur publicly, in front of other people?
  • Is there a formal process for effectively resolving conflicts?

An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage

~ Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric

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