A conflict is common and inevitable in work place. Conflict may involve team members, departments, projects, organization and client, boss and subordinate, organizational needs vs personal needs. Conflict management deals with settling differences between groups and handling interpersonal conflicts between individuals. According to Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann, following are the five conflict styles that manager will follow – collaborating, compromising, accommodating, competing and avoiding. Compromising: With compromising approach, each person gives up something that contributes towards the conflict resolution.
Faster issue resolution: Compromising will be more practical, if you require faster resolution with limited time.
Compromising can provide a temporary solution and it lowers the levels of tension and stress resulting from the conflicts. When bargaining is used to reach compromise, both parties are prepared to lose or win some points and aim to reach a solution acceptable to both sides. For example, due to shortage of staff and absenteeism, skill mix is poor in hospital, even though the patients safety and care is not compromised.
Staff is willing to give up their Doff to another day to compromise the skill mix. Avoiding is also known as withdrawing, this is when a person neither pursues their own concerns nor those of their opponent. He or she doesn’t address the conflict, but sidesteps, postpones or simply withdraws. This the classic win/lose situation.
Withdrawal is appropriate when more important issues are pressing and don’t have time to deal with it and also, unable to handle the conflict. In withdrawal, the winner will be triumphant, but the loser will be aggrieved and either demotivated or resolved to fight again.
Withdrawal also gives time to prepare and collect information before act. For example, many nurses have quit their job rather than attempt to resolve the conflict at work leads to feeling of regret and guilt. Key personal skills include listening actively, to ensure that you fully understand the position of those involved in the conflict. Understand the problem by asking pertinent, open ended questions example: what about that was upsetting to you.
Recognise the feelings and allow them to be expressed without any aggression. Managers can easily recognise the tension and signs of conflict and in turn, stop the situation from escalating. Some signs are body language such as avoiding eye contact, crossed arms, frowning and position. Behavioural changes, slowed productivity, anxiety, words and comments complaints, loss of trust, increases sickness levels, and high staff turn- over are some of the signs of conflicts. A useful personal skill is able to help others to recognise when particular emotions are inappropriate. Emotional awareness helps to manage the feelings appropriately, understand yourself and others. It also helps to stay motivated until the conflict is resolved. Emotional awareness helps to communicate clearly and effectively.
Communication skill is important to understand the source of conflicts, strong communication also includes active listening. Active listening is a set of techniques designed to help you hear and understand what someone else is saying and to help the speaker express him /herself clearly. Active listening focus on both facts and feelings, reduces tension and defensiveness, and allows conflicts to be resolved more effectively. Other communication behaviours that supports effective conflict resolution include reading nonverbal cues and knowing when to interrupt and when to stay quiet. Problem solving skills aids conflict resolution by knowing how to tackle the problem rather than deny or avoid it, reduces the chance of a conflict emerging. Assertiveness involves the use of sophisticated brain and verbal skills such as listening, empathy, discussion and negotiation.
Assertive behaviour is honest, direct, clear, expressive, self -enhancing, persistent and respectful. Assertiveness builds confidence, self – esteem and self- respect. Practice statements like ‘’I feel concerned, I feel happy’’. Skills required to deal with conflicts are communication, team work, problem solving, stress management and emotional agility. Paraphrasing is putting it into your own words can clarify the message, make it more relevant to your audience or give it greater impact. Paraphrased material should keep its original meaning and length. Follow these four steps to paraphrase the text which are read and make notes, find the different terms, put the text into your own words, check your work. Summarising is a brief overview of an entire discussion or argument. Summaries simply the complex arguments, grammar and vocabulary.
Both can save time, increases understanding and give authority and credibility to work. Restating is repeating in your own words the main facts and issues. The purpose of this is to show that you have heard and understood, and to check the meaning and interpretation of what you have heard. Conflict can often be helpful, but when conflict escalates and is allowed to go on without resolution it can become distracting and costly to an organisation. Some results of the unresolved conflicts include Stress and frustration, employee turn – over, increased client complaints, absenteeism, grievances, low morale/motivation, and bullying, decreased performance and productivity.
Interpersonal conflict in a team results in increased stress levels for almost everyone who comes in contact with it. As the stress level among the team increases, absenteeism rises, and productivity suffers. Workplace conflict causes stress, can be equally dangerous to people’s physical and emotional health. The nature of the conflicts and stress not only affects the mind, it also affects the body and contributes to injury rates. Prolonged and chronic stress leads to heart diseases and ulcers. Work place conflicts can involve continued disagreements, poor communication, bullying and harassment. There is an increases risk of people suffering from post -traumatic stress disorder results from the psychological damage that can occur from witnessing the conflicts,
Unresolved conflicts can result in higher absenteeism, mistakes and worker exhaustion. If the problem continues, general morale and productivity may be affected. If it runs too long, many employees consider leaving their jobs and some do, possibly leaving the department also. The conflict could lead to sabotage and damage to the business as the employee’s anger grows due to lack of resolution. The conciliator is impartial and independent, discussions are confidential. Conciliation could help you and employee to settle problem without making a claim to an employment tribunal. A conciliator will talk through the issues with each side, explain the legal issues involved, look up the opportunities for settling the case and helps both parties to agree a legally binding agreement. ACAS offers free, independent and confidential conciliation service.
Arbitration can be used to resolve individual problems. Arbitrator decides two points of view, acts like a judge and makes firm decision on a case. Arbitration guarantees confidentiality, one of the attractions is that lack of publicity surrounding their dispute and its outcome. It is fast, flexible and highly cost- effective. Its voluntary and both sides should agree to arbitration. This is also used to settle individual disputes. The ACAS arbitration scheme can be used to alleged unfair dismissal or claims under working legislation. ACAS was given powers to draw up the Scheme in the Employment Rights Acts 1998.
Hearings are conducted by arbitrators from the ACAS panel of independent arbitrator. They are chosen for their impartiality, knowledge, sills and employment relations experience. Both parties need to sign an agreement form to come under the arbitration scheme. In case the alleged unfair dismissal not resolved, both parties should speak to the ACAS conciliator. Conciliation and arbitration are usually used to resolve the problem, they can be used in collective situations where there is a dispute between a group of workers.