Squandered work time can be expensive for companies, to the tune of $15.5 million on average, according to researchers from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Ohio State. But communication, a new pair of eyes and even healthy conflict can help solve this.

As detailed in a recent Kellogg Insight blog posting, there are clear-cut ways to combat dysfunctional workplace dynamics that can hit companies’ bottom line. Their work involved identifying different kinds of management problems or employee behaviors that lead to inefficiencies, and how to solve them.

Here are some of their recommendations, as noted in the blog posting:

  • It seems that winning groups of employees and managers are so used to being the best that they don’t always seek good data from each other — colleagues that are also rivals. Solution: rely on insights from a rival or colleague, and not an outside consultant. The information can be just as vital, and also cheaper.
  • Too many experts can gum up progress on finding a solution. So the research team recommends reframing the problem to solve so expertise isn’t necessary. Don’t be afraid to bring in outside perspective, as it can make a big difference toward coming up with a solution.
  • Create the kind of climate within an organization where team members can build consensus but also solve conflicts. This can be done with clear communications, letting employees and colleagues know that conflict isn’t personal and the resulting consensus is a good thing. The recommendation here: perhaps use one conference room as the “boxing ring” and the other as the “campfire.”

Click here to read the full blog item.