Hidden Costs…

Hidden Costs…

There is a hidden cost in the workplace which is difficult to measure and therefore often not even considered.

That cost is the loss of energy and engagement of staff when conflicts and disagreements are not managed appropriately – and are left to fester.

Today, most organisations are conscious of rising administrative costs, and staff are more than ever under pressure to produce more with less. This is of fundamental importance to humanitarian agencies who are acutely conscious of these increases, of the need to be ethical and answerable to their funding sources – and ultimately are only too aware that resources spent on administration are resources lost to the programmes that relieve suffering, and are their raison d’etre.

It is therefore essential that all staff are focused, organised and one hundred percent engaged in the common goal, and that any conflicts and disagreements – inevitable in any pressured work environment – are handled quickly and dealt with appropriately.

Conflict Resolution

Patrice Lencioni in his work on dysfunctional teams identified one of the main dysfunctions that all teams tend towards if not consciously working to avoid – as a fear of addressing conflict, and he called this dysfunction – artificial harmony – that is a state where on the surface people are too busy, unwilling or unable to address the underlying cause of the conflictual situation, preferring instead to ignore it, with the inevitable loss of motivation, engagement – and ultimately the hidden and unquantifiable cost in terms of loss of productivity.

So the team or individual that develops the skill of managing conflicts and disagreements in an appropriate way is a valuable asset to any organisation. Fortunately, this skill can be learned, practised and continuously developed. The key is to have the willingness to step into the situation, to view the clash of positions objectively and to seek to find a creative, “out of the box” solution that transcends the immediate stress and can help build trust and greater understanding between colleagues.


The author, Liz Tayfun, is an experienced facilitator & trainer, with over 22 years working mainly in organizations within the humanitarian world. She facilitates workshops in conflict resolution, teambuilding, diversity, communication and career development.  Most recently, she has been developing and facilitating distance programs for field-based staff.


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