Conflict management is the process of controlling the negative aspects of conflict while raising the positive aspects of conflict. The purpose is to enhance learning and group developments, including efficiency or performance in an organizational setting. Conflict management is the mode of being able to understand and handle conflicts logically, fairly, and efficiently. Since conflicts in a business are an inherent part of the workplace, it is important that there are people who realize conflicts and know how to resolve them.
In today’s market everyone is striving to show how valuable they are to the company they work for and at times, this can lead to disputes with other members of the team. Thus, in this article we are going to discuss about the organizational conflicts and some of the remedies.
Exercising personal courage is essential if you want to successfully resolve conflicts at work. It is much easier and much safer to ignore the necessary conflict and avoid difficulty by refusing to face it. Unfortunately, unresolved conflict tends to expand. It never really vanishes because it suppresses just below the surface. One who is unskilled –
- Avoids conflict in matters and with people.
- May adjust, want everyone to get along.
- May get agitated as a reaction to conflict, takes it
- Can’t work under conflict long enough to get a good deal.
- Gives in and agrees too soon.
- Gets into conflict by chance, doesn’t see it coming.
- Will let things aggravate rather than dealing with them directly.
- Will try to wait long enough for it to go away.
- May be extremely competitive and have to win every dispute.
The ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on the expertness to –
- Step up to conflicts, seeing them as favourable circumstances.
- Apprehend situations quickly.
- Good at attentive listening.
- Can discuss difficult agreements and settle disputes accurately.
- Can find area of understanding and get cooperation with minimum noise.
- Manage stress easily while remaining vigilant and calm.
- Control emotions and behavior.
- Pay attention to the feelings being expressed as well as the words spoken by others.
- Be aware of and respect differences.
There are some who overuse their skills. They –
- May be seen as too forceful and assertive.
- May interfere in everyone else’s problems.
- May run for a solution before others are ready.
- May have an undesirable effect on controversies.
- May spend too much time with adamant people and unsolvable problems.
Most organizations are fragmented and divided which sets up natural conflict within groups. Whenever two groups are formed, conflict follows. Gender and race intrusion have probably brought with them increased conflict. Competition has intensified, making speed and dexterity more important but also created more conflict and less relaxed reflection. There is data based conflict – one’s numbers are better than the other’s. There is opinion conflict – someone’s opinion has greater value than the other’s. Then there is power conflict – each one claiming ownership. There is unnecessary conflict due to how people position themselves and protect their section. Conflict management has become important and frequent than it used to be.
Conflicts are inevitable. This is especially true in today’s diverse environments where people can have different values, communication styles, and personality types. Fortunately, many organizational conflicts can be prevented, or at least minimized, if we take some preventive steps –
- Cooperative Relations – Developing cooperative relationships involves displaying impartiality, the other side feeling understood and respected, and taking a problem oriented point of view. To do this increase the perceptions of fairness, don’t try to win every battle, focus on the common ground issues and interests of both sides. Reduce any remaining conflicts to the minimum size possible.
- Causing Unnecessary Conflict – Speech, words and timing set the tone and can cause unnecessary conflict that has to be managed before anything can be done. Do not use insensitive language. Try not to raise your voice often. Avoid using terms and phrases that challenge others. Give reasons ahead of solutions. When you give solutions first, people usually challenge the solutions instead of defining the problem. Use words that are about the problem and not the person. Avoid direct blaming remarks and describe the problem and its impact.
- Practice Aikido – The ancient art of absorbing the energy of your opponent is used to manage him/her. Let your opponent drain frustration, rejoice, but don’t react. Just listen and nod. Ask some open-ended questions. Translate their position to signal you have understood but don’t respond. Separate the people from the problem. When someone attacks you, rephrase it as an attack on the problem. In response to unreasonable attacks, you can always remain silent. Many times, with unlimited oozing and your understanding, the actual conflict reduces.
- Diminishing The Conflict – Almost all conflicts have common points that get lost in the moment of anger. After a conflict has been understood, it might be helpful if you agree on anything. Focus on common goals, priorities and problems. Keep the open conflicts as small as possible. Usually calm discussion are easier to deal with. If you can’t coincide on a solution, agree on a course of action to move forward. Collect more data. Appeal to a higher power. Get a third party mediator. This creates some positive motion and breaks standstill.
- Too Emotional – Sometimes our emotional reactions make others think we have problems with conflict. Learn to recognize these reactions as soon as they start and substitute something more impartial. Most emotional responses to conflict come from taking the issue at a personal level. Separate people issues from the problem and deal with people issues separately and later if they continue. Always stay away from personal clashes. Resolve the problem by looking at common interests and underlying concerns, not people and their positions. If you get emotional, pause and collect yourself, since you are not your best when you get emotional. Then return to the problem.
- Selective Conflict – If specific people, issues, styles, or groups set you off and make you handle the conflict poorly, then write down the last few times when you handled conflict poorly. Try to figure out the common things in the situations. There may be common themes, or the same people are involved. Maybe people were different but the style was same. Once you have found the cause, mentally practice a better way of handling it when it comes up next time.
- Organizational Conflict – Organizations are a complex web of issues and rivalries. Political errors come in many shapes and sizes. The most common is saying things you shouldn’t. Next are actions that are politically out of line and not right for the context. Worst are politically unacceptable moves, initiatives, and strategies. Then there are unnecessary conflicts, tensions, misunderstandings and rivalries created because you took after a specific person or group. Work to understand the politics of the organization. While dealing with top management, sensitivities are high, egos are big, sensitivity traps are set and there can be major tensions There is a lot of room for making statements or acting in ways that would be seen as depicting your poor political judgment and causing conflict.
- Provide Conflict Resolution Training – The negative impact of conflict can be reduced by helping employees develop the skills they need to successfully resolve the conflicts that occur in their lives. This gives them more confidence in their ability to resolve both personal and professional conflicts. It also makes people more effective at managing minor conflicts as they occur, instead of letting them become major disturbances.
- Provide Communication Skills Training – By providing communication skills training, employees can increase their ability to communicate effectively with conflicting individuals, and manage the communication problems that are often at the center of organizational conflict.
- Help Staff Develop Positive Work Relationships – The employees must get a chance to get to know each other better and to feel more comfortable with each other. This can be done by providing chances for social interactions, by giving tasks that put staff into contact with people they don’t normally interact with, and by providing cross-training opportunities.
- Implement Team Building Activities – Team relationships and performance can be significantly improved through the team development process. These activities help team members to get more comfortable with each other and determine conflict management.
- Create An Environment That Encourages Participation – This can be done through formal employee involvement programs that require employee input and reward people for their participation. This is especially important because research has shown that such programs have a positive impact on both individual and organizational performance.
- Provide Conflict Mediation Training For Leaders – No matter how hard you work at reducing conflict that hinders performance and prevents you from achieving organizational goals, they are going to reoccur. Thus, organizational leaders should develop their conflict mediation skills so they can help employees resolve the conflicts that will surely arise.
- Provide Third-Party Conflict Mediation Services – At times when a leader cannot solve a conflict between employees, it helps if employees have an experienced third-party where they can secretly address a conflict situation.
- Employees Should Be Clear About Organizational Goals and Priorities – Usually conflicts occur because of differences over goals or values. By ensuring that employees think in a similar way regarding objectives, priorities and plans, chances of conflict will decrease.
- Treat Everyone Fairly – This may seem obvious, but many managers are accused of unjust treatment, and it is necessary for organizational leaders to make sure they are behaving in an equal manner. Even the appearance of favoured behavior can create conflict situations.
Conflict management plays a very important part at workplaces to avoid conflicts. It helps employees to concentrate on their work. The team leaders must ensure that the roles and duties of each and every employee are clearly passed on to them. A conflict arises when individuals have varied interests, opinions and thought processes and are just not ready to compromise with each other. It is always better to adjust to some extent and try to find a solution to the problem rather than crying over and fighting. Conflicts and clashing only lead to negativity and things never reach a conclusion. It only adds on to the tensions and makes life difficult. It actually leaves you drained and spoils your reputation. Every individual should try his level best to avoid conflict at the initial stage rather than resolving it later.