Diversity and quality are the marks of a good firm
‘Don’t bother to open shop if you can’t smile,” goes a Chinese saying. Likewise, don’t bother to run a business if you are not good at conflict resolution. Business, by its nature, is a constant clash of interests.
We have to learn to see conflict the way the fireman sees a fire – he knows how destructive it is, but it has to be faced and defeated. Conflicts have a tendency to destroy the reputations of the peacemakers. Sometimes the person who tries to break up a fight loses his life.
Any given day at work is full of what I call “micro conflicts”, whether it is arguing about a few rands on an invoice, being upset that a presentation has not been delivered, or a disagreement with your boss on whether or not you deserve a promotion.
Different people deal with conflict differently.
Whatever you do, don’t cry at work, at least not in front of everyone. Tears belong in Grade 1. Bullies love to squeeze them out of good people, and there are probably more bullies in corporations than there are on a school playground.
A business is not impermeable to the conflicts in the wider community. Societal conflicts seep through and taint the business, which is why tribal and racial conflicts outside tend to affect staff members inside.
Our country is particularly prone to racial fits, but managers have to find a way to keep production going, and money coming in, during all of that.
Conflicts must be contained if a business is to succeed. If there are too many, they can be distracting, and the staff will spend too much time fighting instead of working.
On the other hand, if they are avoided at all costs, the company will probably fall into danger. A healthy dose of pain, conflict and disagreement are necessary if the organisation is to have longevity.
One of the four important points in creating harmony in the organisation is to keep staff to a minimum. Have no one in your business who is not useful. Extras cause survivalist conflicts, which are like forest fires – they soon get out of control.
Second is the appearance and diversity of your organisation. Make sure you have people of different backgrounds from top to bottom.
The third is quality of staff. No company can be better than its people. The quality of thinking has nothing to do with the colours that cover the brain. Dare to find people who are bright and diligent, no matter how trivial the job may be.
The fourth and most important point to consider is to build and communicate a dream that will make your people persevere through their daily conflicts because of its magnanimity.
Work is an integral part of our lives and has become more than a source of income; it brings meaning to our lives. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive,
an advertising agency