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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Conflict management

While no single definition of conflict exists, most definitions seem to involve the following factors:
That there are at least two independent groups, the groups perceive some incompatibility between themselves.
It’s probably no surprise that over half of conflicts come from priorities, schedules, and people. That’s why so many of the processes are focused on preventing conflicts.
Ground rules, good planning practices, and pretty much anything that has to do with communication are all there to prevent the most common reasons that conflicts happen.

Some of the common reasons that conflicts happen

Resources are scarce—that’s why you have to negotiate for them. Have you ever been in a situation where there’s a “good” conference room, or top-performing team member, or even that photocopy machine that always seems to be in use? Well, that’s a scarce resource. No wonder resources cause so many conflicts.

Priorities mean one project or person is more important than another, and gets more budget, resources, time, prestige,or other perks. If the company’s priorities aren’t crystal clear,then conflicts are definitely going to happen.

Schedule decide who gets what, when. Have you ever had a client, sponsor, or stakeholder get upset because your project won’t come in as early as he or she wanted it to? Then you’ve had a conflict over schedules.

Differences between employees’ and managers’ personalities often are a source of issues. People are sometimes annoyed by one another simply because of their looks or actions.
Stress is a huge motivator of conflict. Every employee has a breaking point, and every employee will reach his or her breaking point at some time or another. On a good day, employees can let issues and differences roll off their backs. However, as stress from home and work deadlines collide, often tempers will flare.

Why Conflict Management Is Important

The plain and simple truth about conflict is that it has both good and bad effects. The type of conflict and its management determines a positive or negative outcome. If not properly managed, conflict can be destructive and ruin employee relationships. Un-managed conflict can create bad feelings in people who experience it as well as those who merely observe it.

Contrary to the common belief that conflict is limited to a disruptive effect, a number of researchers acknowledge substantial benefits. In fact, conflict can be a driving force of change. When managed correctly, conflict produces the following results: new ideas for changing organizations, solving of continuous problems, a chance for workers to expand their capabilities, and the introduction of creativity into thoughts about organizational problems. With that said, managers and supervisors must realize the importance of allowing constructive conflict. At the same time, management must swiftly and effectively confront conflict that is detrimental to the organization.

Conflict Management Strategies
There is a menu of strategies we can choose from when in conflict situations: 

  • Forcing - using formal authority or other power that you possess to satisfy your concerns without regard to the concerns of the party that you are in conflict with.
  • Accommodating/Smoothing - allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your own.
  • Avoiding/Withdrawing - not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve it.
  • Compromising - attempting to resolve a conflict by identifying a solution that is partially satisfactory to both parties, but completely satisfactory to neither.
  • Collaborating - cooperating with the other party to understand their concerns and expressing your own concerns in an effort to find a mutually and completely satisfactory solution (win-win).
  • Confronting/Problem Solving - When you confront the source of the conflict head-on and work with everyone to find a solution that actually fixes the reason that conflicts happen, then the problem is most likely to go away and never come back!

Ways for Minimizing Conflict
  • Respect others
  • communicate expectations
  • Encourage teamwork
  • Empower people
  • Avoiding punishment
  • Encouraging professionalism
  • Encouraging discussions


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