Aviation Leadership – Considering Different Types of Conflict Functional & Dysfunctional

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Sofema Online (SOL) www.sofemaonline.com looks at the difference between Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict.


Effective treatment of conflict in the workplace promotes harmony and helps to maintain an efficient business process. However, It is a reality that both functional and dysfunctional types of conflict may occur in any workplace.

The challenge is to deal with it in an effective way using an appropriate level of empathy and understanding (With genuine sincerity).

Understanding the Nature of Conflict (Functional & Dysfunctional Conflict)

Functional Conflict - Functional conflict can be a positive experience because it embraces the policies and goals of the organization. Potentially it can serve to increase productivity and provide encouragement & motivation to the employees to achieve the best solutions for a given problem.

Dysfunctional Conflict - Dysfunctional conflict on the other hand arises from individual personal differences which may exist as well as other potentially non-work-related issues. Such conflicts which are not necessarily directly work-related never the less interfere with people’s ability to focus on important tasks.

Separating out the Important Aspects to Deal with Functional & Dysfunctional Conflict

When analyzing a conflict situation, it may become apparent that functional and dysfunctional conflict can seem somewhat interconnected.

>> If it is clearly problematic and issues need to be addressed before moving on then steps need to be taken.
>> Consider separate meetings to understand the pressure points.
>> If necessary, involve HR.

Identify a clear path forward to re-establish the business process and achieve a positive outcome

Encouraging a Healthy Work Environment

>> As we have already identified differences in opinions should actually be encouraged.
>> By challenging the Status Quo (Current Situation) we have an opportunity to test new ideas and suggestions.
>> A willingness to constantly review current practices, processes & behaviours will usually support positive outcomes.
>> A leader must be open-minded and entertain every idea and suggestion and comment on the work’s quality and structure.

Functional conflict should be structured, where everyone gets an equal opportunity to voice their opinions. If someone feels she is treated unfairly, it is necessary to recognize the problem and enquire about her opinion on the matter at hand. Brilliant ideas and new perspectives can emerge from debates and discussions.

Take Aways:

>> All employees should be encouraged to challenge the system and provide opinions.
>> A genuine desire to improve should be recognized and rewarded
>> A process which is transparent as well as democratic can serve to deliver positive change.

Next Steps

Sofema Aviation Services (www.sassofia.com) and Sofema Online (www.sofemaonline.com) offer multiple soft skills courses.

See here for access to the Aviation Leadership and Management Skills Diploma. If you need additional details or you have any questions, please email team@sassofia.com

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