Are Conflicts bad? Not if they are based on a constructive debate.
Often conflicts arise due to personal prejudices or ego clashes. Try removing the personal aspect out of the conflict and if you still find there is something worthwhile in the debate, then conflict is good. However, even when conflicts are good, if not managed well it can lead to undesirable consequences like lower morale, silos, to name a few. A startup, with limited resources at its disposition, cannot afford such productivity dampeners.
Another contributing factor to conflict, is the lack of proper role definition or role clarity. Now this is a tricky area for a startup. With limited resources, everyone is expected to contribute for growth. Everyone wears multiple hats. But to a great extent an employee's primary responsibilities can be defined such that it doesn't conflict with another employee.
The solution lies much before the conflict arose – recruitment. Recruitment is the time when roles are defined. When a startup hires, possible areas of conflict should be analyzed and discussed with the employee(s) in that role and then only should the role be defined. Not only does this help in improving role definition but also helps in team building.
So how do we resolve conflicts? Often the main reason for conflicts in an organization is poor communication. A startup should inculcate a culture of open communication. Meaning – a. When you walk into a discussion leave your designation outside the room. b. Don't mix the person with the problem. c. Listen first. Talk later.
Finally, show me the facts. A discussion is most constructive when it is based on facts. The focal point of the debate then moves from the person to the facts.
Conflicts are an essential part of any organization. Only with open debate, does an organization reach the best possible solution to any given problem. Do make sure that your organization encourages constructive debate and doesn't kill it on the pretence of resolving conflicts.