If in workplace teams, conflict is normal, inevitable, and I would argue required to succeed, the question then becomes whether or not a team will experience positive or negative outcomes as a result of their conflicts. Those that experience positive outcomes of conflict will be more creative and are generally more likely to have their projects succeed, while those who experience negative outcomes from conflicts will have higher costs, less innovation, and are more likely to fail in their projects. Anticipating and engaging with conflict early on in the life of a team is one key to building a cost effective and innovative workplace team.
Even though proactively engaging with conflict seems like a proven best practice, it has been my experience that a good portion of the work coming in to dispute resolution practitioners is driven by crisis in the work team. In these cases someone has realized that the costs of conflict in the team has risen high enough to do something about it. They have often come to that conclusion through an intuitive sense that the time has come. Cost of Conflict calculators work to take the guesswork out of that decision making process.
Those people who control whether or not a conflict practitioner gets hired want to know what a conflict is actually costing them in real dollars. In most every case someone is making a decision based on what the conflict is costing them vs. what it will cost them to resolve it. In most cases they need some kind of cost of conflict information before they are willing to engage in services. Because of this, we set out to build a single calculator that would show exactly that – the cost of conflict in real dollars. That journey has reinforced three major points:
Ease of Use and Speed vs. Complete Accuracy
It is important to note that Resologics is not the first to think of and act on the idea of measuring the costs of conflict. Other tools exist in a variety of forms and in the examples we found they all used data from the organization to organize, tally and put a value on costs. This is a very sound way of measuring, and, given the right circumstances, the only way. A significant difference in the Resologics Conflict Cost Calculator is that it uses real data collected from the team conflict experience and ties that together with industry estimates of data like average wages, turnover costs, etc… . The results from the Resologics Conflict Calculator™ are an estimate rather than an exact figure, and for the majority of projects, that quick estimate is enough evidence to provide proof for a need for change.
Building the Tool
The Resologics Conflict Calculator™
The calculator estimates what the team has spent so far, and how much it will spend in the future, on unproductive outcomes from conflict. It outputs easily measured and understood solid dollar costs that are based on industry research and the users’ custom answers. Based on nine questions, the most common and largest dollar value costs are calculated.
Benefits to users include:
Here’s the Hard Part of the Build
The most complex part of this Conflict Calculator building project was determining the costs that it would measure and placing a prioritization on each cost based on what was most reliably measured and most important to know. The following is an inside look at the three levels of conflict costs we grappled with. The first seven costs displayed are the ones the current version of the Conflict Calculator measures. By using only seven costs out of a potential of thirty-seven, we believe the results of the calculation will be typically conservative and supportable as real costs to the organization.
A Complete List of Conflict Costs From Negative Outcomes
As a final note to this introductory article I would like to encourage readers to both visit the Resologics Conflict Calculator™ to test it out and visit the page we created that explains in more detail how we arrived at the calculations. Your comments and suggestions are welcome and will support an even better version of the tool in the future.
JAMS ADR Blog by Chris PooleAs a JAMS mediator, I believe that one of the best ways to assist parties to resolve a dispute is to educate them about the...By James Ware