A wasted day.
That’s how CFOs see the nearly whole day a week that they spend arbitrating disputes among employees, instead of tending to their other duties.
According to an Accountemps survey, and on a par with similar studies going back as far as 1991, CFOs spend an average of 6 hours per week—15 percent of their time—resolving conflicts among employees.
Some report spending considerably more than that, certainly to the detriment of the business. Only 3 percent report spending no time on conflict resolution rather than on their other responsibilities.
“The more time managers spend reducing friction between coworkers, the less time they have for tackling business priorities,” Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, says in a statement. Steinitz adds, “Company leaders should proactively look for ways to build rapport among colleagues to help curb issues before they arise.”
With conflicts being a reality in the workplace, Accountemps offers some suggestions on how to approach setting disputes:
Empathize: Showing empathy to participants in the disagreement and listening to both sides, for better understanding of both points of view, can help to find some common ground or another means of resolving the problem.
Descalate: Jumping in on a disagreement before it has time to escalate into a feud is important—and also precludes an argument continuing long enough to disrupt the work of others not involved in the dispute.
Mediate: Bringing in a third party to mediate can help by getting a fresh and impartial point of view. An outside perspective may also present a workable resolution that no one involved in the conflict has considered.
Forgive: And last but not least, avoid holding a grudge. Once an agreement has been reached, those involved need to put the matter to rest, learn from the experience and discuss how they can avoid potential issues in the future.