Introduction of conflict in
Conflict can be described as a clash of interest, state of disharmony and potential for disagreement due to facts or assumptions by individuals or groups within the organization. This can result from resource allocation and divisions of responsibility. organizational conflict can either hamper the business or offer a chance for improvement. Example: when workers requests higher pay and the business owner or management wants pay levels to remain the same.
There are two types of conflict that can occur within a company. Functional and dysfunctional. Functional conflict is healthy, constructive disagreement between groups or individuals which sparks creativity and allows for development and growth, while dysfunctional conflict is conflict that leads to a decline in communication or the performance of a group. This conflict leads to poor quality decisions being made and it often leads to higher stress.
How a business can deal more effectively with dysfunctional conflict
Dysfunctional conflicts cause stress, which reduces worker satisfaction and can lead to increases in absenteeism and turnover. This can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction due to missed deadlines and reduced work quality.
The business must act directly and immediately to dysfunctional conflict before it becomes out of hand. The business must resolve conflict by recognizing ambitions and abilities of their employees and attempt to motivate them and bring them to work together more effectively when there is too much conflict.
Instead of ignoring conflict, managers need to know how to address such situations and help employees regain focus. Training managers to become mediators in conflicts and providing them with negotiation skills will help them become better listeners and more empathetic toward employees. Usually in businesses there is disagreements involving different visions for the business. If a mutual consensus cannot be reached the manager must let one of the parties go in order to avoid dysfunctional conflict.
Businesses need to ensure that they delegate roles to employees appropriately to avoid role overload and role conflict. Having more roles that can be handled can lead to dysfunctional conflict where too much expectation is placed on an employee. They might not be able to handle the pressure which leads to a breakdown and chaos within the business because work has not met its deadline.
Manages of a business need to be able to deal with change and they should help employees cope with change. Training and communication can be used as tools to cope with change. People who aren’t happy with change and prefer to do work the way it has always been done will resist change and this resistance will lead to conflict.
Steps the business can take to resolve dysfunctional conflict through a third party:
Facilitation- involves helping the parties to address their conflict directly and constructively
Conciliation- the third party helps set up a meeting between the parties and establish direct communication channels.
Arbitration- final decision made by the arbitrator.
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How a business can encourage functional conflict without causing dysfunctional conflict
Encouraging functional conflict within a business is important for the businesses growth and development as well as stimulating creative ideas. However, it is important that the conflict is managed in a correct manner in order to avoid dysfunctional conflict.
To encourage functional conflict a business/leader should communicate information to employees in a clear understandable manner. This will result in everyone in the business knowing what the vision and mission of the business is and they will understand the purpose and direction of the business.
A group should have a responsible leader who is going to motivate and guide them to reach a common goal and to maintain order. Employees will work together to reach a common goal, which will lead to brainstorming of ideas during the decision process. This brainstorming will encourage a variety of creative ideas, employees will never have the same idea and might not always agree with each other therefore the leader must be listening and speaking to all who may not agree on the same idea.
A decision will be made once the pros and cons of an idea have been taken into consideration. This would make an impression of fairness among the members which promotes a functional conflict environment within a workplace because people understand and respect each other’s idea and decreases dysfunctional conflicts because sides are not being taken.
The business should get input and feedback from lower levels in the business so that all employees feel that their opinion is valued. By receiving feedback, the business can encourage functional conflict because employees have different ideas and they might not agree with one another, but by debating with each other a mutual agreement will be reached with both ideas combined.
What Managers Should Do When Dealing With Conflict:
It is never easy dealing with conflict especially in the work place. However, it has been proven that conflict between two parties can be dealt with more easily when a third party enters. The purpose of this third party can range between advising the parties just overseeing them or acting as the one who makes a judgement call on how to stop the conflict. In a business ,managers can act as this third party which can help deal with conflict as well as potentially prevent conflict from going further than it should. When acting as this third party a manager should take into account the following:
• Choose your battles. Any manager will not have time or energy to manage all conflicts that arise in the workplace. A manager should consider how important the issue is before deciding if they are going to participate in an argument or not. Managers should also not allow their emotions to come into play during a conflict because at the end of the day, the work is for the company not the manager. If the conflict could make you look bad, then you should avoid it because how people perceive you has a direct impact on your success at work.
• Listen actively. Always hear what all parties have to say before getting involved in the discussion. If manages fail to listen, they will miss important facts that could change the outcome of the argument. Perhaps both parties are getting overworked about nothing and are just feeling stressed out and need to talk to about their own problems. Either way, manages should be level headed, take a step back and listen carefully to what they are talking about so they can provide a solution based on the information provided by everyone involved.
• Have an open mind. Be able not only to listen but put yourself in the position of the other people involved. Everyone has different perspectives and conflicts can arise in the workplace because of peoples different viewpoints. So after listening to what everyone says, it’s good to put yourself in their shoes and create a solution that is good for not only the employees, but especially good for the company. If it’s not good for the company, and you can prove why, then that should be brought to the two employees attention and a call should be made as how to diffuse the conflict.
• Keep your composure. Don’t let your emotion get the best of you and ensure that your body language does not bring across a negative message to the employees. If the other parties in the conflict see that you’re siding with the other or are unable to handle the situation, it will look bad. Managers should be able to compose themselves, take a step back and truly analyse the situation at hand. If you fail to keep your composure, you will be seen as someone who shouldn’t be a manager, or a leader.
• Be respectful of differences. There are so many differences between people and you have to account for them when dealing with conflict and trying to resolve it. Someone could be a different gender, ethnicity, class, be from a different country or were raised with a different world view. These are all points of difference that can’t be changed but factor into how people behave in a work setting and need to be accounted for. You should respect their differences so that you are fair to them and so that you can best understand and relate to their backgrounds.
• Identify common ground. Think about where both parties are coming from and what they can agree on. This way, you can help them start to mend their relationship and better work together on resolving their conflict. They should start by first agreeing that the problem does in fact exist, then agree on the worst-case scenario and then on a step to fix the issue in order to avoid this scenario. Getting both parties aligned and helping both of them figure out a solution can help save you time and be more effective.
• Propose a solution. If the two employees can’t figure things out on their own, it’s time for you to step in and help them come up with a solution. Take both perspectives into account and think about how the result will impact the company before making a decision. Your solution should be focused on the company’s best interests and resolve the problem for everyone involved if possible. Don’t pick favourites and eliminate all bias when you come up with a solution and instead take their perspectives and your own and come up with something that you think would work best for the company not only for you.
• Ask for help. If you can’t come to a resolution by yourself, with the parties involved, then it’s time to seek advice. I would go to your mentors in the company before you go to your boss. The worst thing you can do is go to your manager and be seen as someone who can’t handle conflict – a trait that leaders should all have however depending on the situation it is important that if the conflict is brought to your bosses attention so that they are aware of potential threats to the business. Address your superiors in the company if not your boss and provide all the background information to them so that they can provide you feedback.
• Be open to compromise. You don’t need to win every battle but you should seek to compromise on some parts of the agreement or solution. Sometimes you just have to give certain things up in order to get what you want in a conflict and you have to be fine with that. If you’re open to compromise, you will also appear to be a fair person, which people respect.
• Maintain your objectivity. Managers typically play to favourites when making decisions on who to promote and support. You have to not side with one employee because you like them more or you’re bound to make the conflict worse. By maintaining your objectivity, you will end up with a better solution and feel better about it. Again, take a step back and start asking the right questions and analyse the situation as an outsider eliminating any bias.