Resolving Conflict

Myths
1. 2. 3. 4. Conflict shouldn’t exist Conflict can be avoided All conflict can be resolved Conflict can only have one winner

Truths
1. Conflict always occurs 2. Conflict can be managed 3. Conflict builds relationships

Sources of conflict
• Control • Expectations • Information • Role Ambiguity • Resources • Stress • Personality

Types of conflict
• Personal • Team o Performing roles that clash with personal expertise, goals, values or ethics o Dispute between two individuals

Conflict resolution – the process of problem-solving to satisfy the needs and desires of both parties

Conflict resolution steps
• Identify the style of resolution to use • Follow the appropriate process • Practice effective communication techniques Conflict management – the process of creating temporary solutions to minimize the negative effects of conflict

Styles of conflict resolution
Indirect

o Reduce mutual dependence o Utilize the chain of command o Reorganize departments Direct o Collaboration o Work together to achieve mutual goals o Most time consuming o Used for complex issues o Not appropriate when one party is unconcerned about the conflict o Do not use for minor disputes or when immediate action is required o Compromise o Appropriate when parties are trying to do mutually exclusive goals and it is impossible to completely satisfy both parties’ objectives. o Parties generally have the same power or positional control. o Inappropriate when one party has more power or resources. o Inappropriate when situation is complex or resolution may be time consuming. o Accommodation o Passive style – lose-win orientation. o Use when you think you have made a mistake and are at fault. o Sacrifice current position for future favours. o Use when perceived position is weaker or it is more important to the other party. o Do not use if the issue holds substantial importance. o Avoid if the other party is untruthful, manipulative or unethical. o Control o Aggressive style – win-lose o Use when an immediate decision is needed or the issue is minor. Other parties can place blame on you rather than themselves. o Used when one party is superior in power, information or qualifications. o Inappropriate when there are several complex issues or the issues are unimportant to one of the parties. o Avoid when both parties possess similar decision-making authority. o Avoidance o Passive style – lose-lose orientation o Can create feelings of frustration and aggravation  restricts personal and organizational gain. o Use only when both parties perceive the problem and its consequences as minor. o Inappropriate when one has to make the final decision. o Inappropriate when an issue has significant importance.

Guidelines
o Never address conflict when you are not prepared.

o Address conflict in a private setting.

Process of resolving conflict
1. Assess the situation a. Does conflict exist? b. Who is involved? c. What is the issue? – Take notes! d. Is the conflict damaging? i. Reduced individual and group productivity ii. Increased stress among workers iii. Decreased cooperation among employees iv. Limited organizational commitment and loyalty v. Resistance to organizational change e. How long has the conflict existed? f. What can be gained from the conflict? Are there benefits? i. Brings problems to management’s attention. ii. Enhances group productivity and teamwork iii. Measures the organization’s morale. iv. Measures personal growth and self-awareness. 2. Find the sources of conflict a. Methods of finding the source: i. Listen to those involved – allow parties adequate time to express opinions. Establish issues that the parties agree on. ii. Talk to other managers iii. Refer to past evaluation reports iv. Identify conflicting goals – What are the conflicts? Why do the parties have different opinions? 3. Determine the parties’ typical personality a. What if the person is argumentative? i. Approach the person privately ii. Question the person directly iii. Emphasize common goals iv. Enlist the help of others. b. What if the person always plays the victim? i. Confront the situation directly. ii. Explain how their behaviour negatively affects the situation. iii. Teach the importance of assertiveness and goal setting. c. What if the person is unreliable? i. Address in private. ii. Address the individual as a team. iii. Follow the chain of command. iv. Remove the individual from the team. d. What if the person is disrespectful? i. Object to offensive jokes. ii. Challenge unethical behaviors. iii. Defend attacked parties.

iv. Encourage positive thinking. 4. Determine the parties’ expectations – make them understand each other’s needs. 5. Select a course of action

Resolving team conflict
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Problem identification Problem solution – involve all team members. Plan development Plan implementation Review

Encourage equal participation among team members
Shared leadership Clear roles Brainstorming Team decision making – Avoid implementing decisions without team member consensus. o Open communication o Team sensitivity o o o o

Encourage teamwork
o Create a comfortable climate o Eliminate environments where team members feel they are being punished or ridiculed. o Keep conflict constructive o Conflict is always 2-sided. o Clarify goals o Foster unity o Encourage team-based decisions

Communication & Conflict Resolution
Communication is a key component to resolving conflict.

Communication Skills
o o o o o o Open-mindedness Ability to communicate reasons behind viewpoints Ability to avoid defensive messages Ability to keep responses descriptive – be explicit with your meaning Ability to appeal to a common goal Ability to respond, don’t react, to people

Maintaining Dialog
o Prep the participants

Find neutral turf Set an agenda Set the timeframe – never try to rush parties into making a decision Referee the interaction – do not hesitate to step in and separate the parties Elicit reactions – avoid ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ questions Offer observations – interrupt the process if you feel and issue has been overlooked. o Restate the issues o Plan for future dialog o o o o o o

Don’t get caught up in the situation
1. Make sure your actions are not perceived as being one sided. 2. Make sure your actions are fair to each of the parties involved. 3. Make sure you keep a good sense of humor.

Effectively giving criticism
1. Always approach from a non-threatening manner. 2. Avoid becoming defensive.

Listening and conflict resolution
o o o o Practice concentration Develop genuine interest Ask questions and paraphrase Wait before responding

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