Di­ver­sity and qual­ity are the marks of a good firm

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@ city­press. co. za

‘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,

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