If you manage people, or spend any significant time around groups of people, you are undoubtedly well-versed on the “Conflict Avoider”. While the Conflict Avoider might be a terrific individual and good at their job if they are in the right position, they can cause tremendous damage to an organization if they are placed in the wrong position, especially in our current economy.
Conflict avoiders have a hard time undertaking difficult actions, and in today’s business environment where optimal performance is essential they can severely impact the bottom line. Conflict avoiders hate to discipline or fire people, so as managers they are much more tolerant of expensive mediocrity. They also tend to build weak teams, as they favor harmony in the workplace over the more-difficult-to-achieve high performance department. They detest having to call a client to collect money, sometimes going as far as covering up for a delinquent receiveable, so they can temporarily avoid difficult interaction with clients and management. They hate to be the bearer of bad news to the client or the company, which creates an entirely new set of issues as either party proceeds in business with a false sense of security.
From management’s perspective it is essential to quickly identify Conflict Avoiders and move them out of key positions that require strength, coach them to be more aggressive, or if possible find positions in the organization where their “softer touch” is an asset. Too often, upper management suffers from their own brand of conflict avoidence, as it is easier to ignore than fix the problem.