Conflict Does Not Occur on Its Own

November 22, 2018 by  

Conflict and problems do not typically occur by themselves. Rather, the roots of existing conflict reside within each organization and its individual members. These potential conflicts can undermine a manager’s ability to effectively lead the group and to make sound decisions that will result in a positive outcomes.
Managers are often confronted with a dilemma when it comes to conflict resolution. If they are unable to find the most workable fit between the problems that result in conflict and the group they direct, their ability to lead their employees will be greatly hampered.
Many of the factors that contribute to conflict and undermine a manager’s ability to lead can be treated independently. Conflict resolution is complex, and managers must identify all the contributing factors and then adjust their approach accordingly in order to arrive at the best solution for everyone involved. This takes time, needs great attention to detail, and a careful assessment of the most critical elements and surrounding circumstances within each specific conflict situation.
Not all managers are in situations where their people possess sophisticated interpersonal skills and have an open mind toward the resolution of conflict. In fact, many manage and direct groups whose makeup creates additional conflict rather than proactive solutions to already existing situations. This places managers at a severe disadvantage and creates situations where their ability to lead may be undermined.
Managers should be very aware of the following workplace factors and circumstances that can lead to the reduction of their management success.

I Necessary Knowledge and Effective Analytical Skills:
Conflict takes many forms, it can be just a simple argument between employees over minor issues to much more sophisticated discussions and negotiations regarding issues of unit efficiency and productivity. However, no matter what the sort of conflict needs to be dealt with, without the necessary group knowledge and effective analytical skills to assess the particular problem and arrive at an objective assessment, those problems will occur.
Groups often assume that taking a predominantly smoothing and avoiding approach to maintain the status quo will work but sometimes they resort to a bargaining and forcing mode that is destructive to the cohesiveness of the group and the organization. Both modes consistently applied in all circumstances will erode the manager’s ability to lead and direct the organization.
If managers observe that some of their people are lacking the requisite skills and knowledge to effectively deal with conflict within the group, they must then determine whether they have the capacity to deal with it effectively, and if so, take the necessary action to ensure these necessary skills are acquired. In this way, managers will then be able to transform a potentially dangerous situation into one that enhances their ability to lead the team.

II Changing Workloads:
Groups can actually have the required knowledge and analytical skills to effectively handle internal conflict, but may be so overburdened with various other tasks and responsibilities that their ability to work through the problem is greatly reduced. The constraints of other higher priority assignments lessen both the desire and the ability of members to actually manage their conflicts. As such clashes are viewed as an unnecessary interruption in more important work, they defer resolution to the manager.
High levels of stress generally characterize overloaded workers. High stress impairs a person’s ability to think rationally and clearly so can then lead to a shallow and incomplete diagnosis of the situation and their ability to find a simple solution can end up being more inflexible and less creative and effective, which are not good outcomes for the well-being of the team.

III Undetermined Expectations:
Each individual on the team has an established idea regarding the degree to which they will become involved in conflict resolution. While approaches vary according to participants’ makeup and personality styles, the predominant mode of conflict resolution is smoothing and avoiding, where peace and the status quo are maintained. In other situations, depending upon company culture, some teams may feel very strongly about their right to be involved in a decision.
Research has shown that many of the tensions that develop between managers and their team may stem from differing assumptions regarding the appropriate degree of group participation in certain types of decisions.
Managers must account for members’ individual personality styles and expectations since reactions and expectations will vary from group to group. Perhaps exploring what the expectations actually are might be a good way to prevent outcomes that are not satisfactory.

IV Conflict Resolution Approaches:
Group conflict resolution is often especially difficult when individual members have different and/or conflicting goals and needs. The most critical aspect of a group’s problem solving ability is its capacity to handle internal conflict.
Managers must ensure that the groups they direct have developed positive and healthy approaches that are consistent. Only when this is achieved is an appropriate forum created in which to work out problems and resolve conflict. Without these resolution parameters, serious and heated group controversy could end up being very divisive and therefore result in ineffective and potentially very harmful solutions.

Conflict is a natural part of human interaction therefore managers must employ appropriate and consistent approaches when helping to resolve issues that arise in their teams. Conflict does not resolve itself, so needs the guidance, honesty, and effective means of communication in order to come to a satisfactory conclusion for all involved.

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