CONFLICT MANAGEMENT 22
To: Bill Kevin, CEO, ABC Inc.
From: Student name
June 12th 2014
Transmittal for Report on conflict management at theworkplace
In response to your request for a report pertaining the issue ofconflict management at the workplace, I have carried out a study onthe causes and the strategies of managing disputes at the workplacein this corporation. I am pleased to present the enclosed report toyou, which comprises the causes and the various strategies that themanagement can use to avoid and manage quarrels.
Based on the study I conducted, communication amongst the employeesand between the employees and the management came up as the maincause of disagreements. This has led to unclear rules andregulations, unclear roles and poor performance. The issue ofpersonality differences also came up as a major cause of quarrels.These and other points have been widely discussed in the report.According to my study, I recommend enhanced and clear communicationamongst employees and between the employees and the management. Thereshould also be clear avenues through which employees can air theirgrievances.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the employees of ABCInc. for their support and information during the analysis of theproblem. I also thank the management of the organization for theinsight they offered in regard to the organization’s conflictmanagement procedures.
Kindly feel free to call in case you need to discuss the report orif you need additional information.
Conflict management has been defined as the lack of understandingamongst two or more parties with varying ideas, opinions or opposinginterests. Disputes are unavoidable in the workplace. Research hasfound out that quarrels are normal and are a part of the workplaceenvironment. At ABC Inc., workplace quarrels are extremely common.This has led to low productivity, low morale amongst employees andabsenteeism. The management has a tremendous role in ensuring that itputs strategies in place to resolve the various conflicts, whicharise amongst the employees. It is evident that in the workplacethere are varying opinions and ideas, which more often than not tendto clash with each other leading to disagreements. Researchers havefound out that managers use approximately 20% of their time trying toresolve workplace disputes (Doherty & Guyler, 2008). This is anindication the ABC Inc. is not an exception and the problem ofworkplace disagreements must be addressed critically.
The process of handling and resolving quarrels at the workplace hasbeen a major challenge for numerous managers and employees. There aretwo strategies that managers and employees use while dealing withworkplace disputes. People will either avoid disputes or they willdeal with it. Notable is the fact that the end result has a greatimpact on the performance of the employees. If there is no resolutionfound out of a quarrel, the parties involved will feel uncomfortableand dissatisfied. The most significant goal for conflict managementis find a resolution to the problem (Raines, 2013). This is willensure that a destructive situation has been turned into anopportunity for creativity and increased performance.
There are various causes of quarrels at the work place. At ABC Inc.the causes of disputes amongst the employees range from poorperformance, different personalities, varying values, poorcommunication, limited resources, as well as different interests.Whereas avoiding quarrels is viewed as the best way to resolve adispute, research has indicated that avoidance only postpones thedisagreement. When the management or the employees avoid adisagreement, it is vital to note that this is not a solution byitself. Avoiding a conflict only postpones it and the disagreementresurfaces at a later date. It is imperative to come up withstrategies to resolve the quarrel in order enhance performance.
There are various conflict management strategies, which ABC Inc. canadopt. It is significant for the management to find out the maincause of the conflict before embarking on resolving the conflict. Allparties involved in the quarrel must also collaborate in the effortsof finding a solution to the disagreement. It is critical for theparties involved in the conflict to figure out the need for resolvingthe dispute. During conflict resolution sessions, it is imperative tostick to the main issues regarding the row (Raines, 2013). It istempting for the conflicting parties to resort to calling names andthis may interfere with the conflict resolutions procedure. Whereaspostponing a conflict may not be the best option, circumstances mayforce the management to postpone a conflict resolution session. Sucha postponement may be necessitated by the emergence of emotions,which may interfere with the process of finding a productiveresolution. The process of actively resolving a quarrel when itoccurs will ensure that a positive working environment is created foreveryone at ABC Inc. This will directly translate to productivity,increased morale and reduced cases of absenteeism
Memo of transmittal 1
Executive summary 4
List of figures 7
Causes of conflicts at the workplace 9
Personality differences 9
Conflicting resources 10
Lack of compliance with organizational rules and policies 11
Lack of proper communication amongst employees 11
Poor performance 12
Conflicting goals 13
Conflicting roles as a source of conflict in the work place 13
Conflict management strategies 14
Conflict avoidance 14
Forcing or competing 16
List of figures
Employees from different racial backgrounds
Poor communication amongst employees
Conflicts at the workplace are common and unavoidable. There arevarious factors which lead to workplace quarrels. It is vital to notethat employees at ABC Inc. have been sourced from various parts ofthe world. As a consequence, the employees have different values andinterests. More often than not, these employees will air differentopinions, which might lead to disagreements. Such sharp disagreementshave been identified as conflicts (Raines, 2013). Conflict managementhas been defined as the process through which conflicts and disputesare identified and are dealt with effectively, rationally and in animpartial way. The main aim of conflict management is to enhance thepositive aspects of disputes while limiting the negative aspectsassociated with quarrels.
Research has indicated that the time spent by managers andsupervisors resolving quarrels has double since the 1980s. This hasbeen associated with enhanced complexity of organizations, as well asthe adopting of group decision making techniques. A proper conflictmanagement procedure leads to increased performance by the group.Various forms of quarrels exist within an organization. Disputes mayoccur between various departments, individuals or employee groups.The most common form of conflict at ABC Inc. is the individualconflict, as well as the group conflict. There are various modelsthat have been put forward on how to manage conflicts. One of theoldest models is the Mary Parker Follett model, which asserts thatindividuals can manage conflicts through domination, compromise andintegration. The researcher also found out that organizations wereusing other models to manage conflicts such as suppression andavoidance.
Causes of conflicts at the workplacePersonality differences
In any organization, employees are pulled from differentbackgrounds, religious and political affiliations, cultures, gendersand ethnic groups. This bring along a wide range of personalities inthe workplace. At ABC Inc., employees constitute of personalitiesfrom varying genders, cultures, as well as political and religiousaffiliations. Personality differences was identified as one majorcause of quarrel at the workplace. It was identified that there islack of proper communication amongst the employees in regard to theirpersonality differences. As a result, employees normally engage inquarrels due to minor personality differences such talking loudly. Itwas also evident that employees from different religious backgroundsand political backgrounds also engage in disagreements and argumentsin regard to their beliefs (Masters & Albright, 2012). Employeesfail to address these personality differences, which end upculminating into enormous conflicts in future. The image below showstwo employees from different racial and cultural backgrounds:
Employees from different racial backgrounds
It is evident that all employees require certain resources, whichare vital in facilitating their work performance. The resources atABC Inc. are limited and there are numerous instances when anindividual or a group of people may require a single resourcesimultaneously. As a result, this has led to quarrels as employeescompete for resources. Such resources may include the office spacemeeting rooms and office supplies. It was also evident that employeeswould compete over office supplies and attention from the managementand fellow colleagues. Quarrels arise when resources are limited andmore than one person, individual or department is fighting over theresource. This is a common occurrence at ABC Inc. where resourcessuch as office supplies and office space are limited. It was alsoevident that competition over incentives such as rewards for bestperformers was a source of dispute. Whereas competition can behealthy for an organization, it is critical to note that it can bethe source of anti-productive behavior in the workplace (Masters &Albright, 2012). This occurs when individual employees start to viewother employees as competitors, rather than members.
Lack of compliance with organizational rules and policies
Many are the times when employees are caught on the wrong side ofthe law. Some employees rebel against the rules and regulations setby the organization. It was evident that employees could pesterfellow employees in regard to disobeying the rules and regulations ofthe organization. This is a main source of conflict at the workplace.Employees have varying views in regard to the various rules andregulations of the organization. Such differences in interpretationsare major sources of disputes amongst employees. It was clearlyevident that there is the lack of an understanding as to why therules and the regulations are in place and the consequences ofbreaking such rules and regulations.
Lack of proper communication amongst employees
Another major source of dispute amongst employees is the lack ofproper communication. Botched communication between and amongemployees has been cited as a main cause of dispute in and outsidethe office. The lack of effective listening skill is a major problemthat inhibits proper communication. This in turn leads todisagreements, which ultimately result in disputes. Poorcommunication or varying communication styles can also fosterdisputes (Masters & Albright, 2012). For instance, there areemployees who assume that their colleagues will understand cues andact accordingly. On the contrary, some employees only understanddirect communication. This may result into disputes amongst employeesas a result of lack of understanding. Since different employees comefrom varying cultural backgrounds, communication language barriersaffect their ability to communicate effectively. This can result todisputes where employees accuse others of backbiting. The image belowillustrate a poor method of communication:
Poor communication amongst employees
In any workplace environment, there are employees whose performancesupersedes that of their colleagues. This is a source of dispute inthe workplace. Hard working employees may feel under pressure and endup accusing their colleagues of being lazy and unproductive. It wasalso observed that there are some employees who like the grill ofgetting things done at the last minute, while other prefer structuredwork, which is done step by step. This is a work style that isrelated to performance standards. Such conflicting styles of work canlead to disputes between the employees, as well as between themanagement and individual employees. At ABC Inc. employees’performances vary significantly. This creates tension amongstemployees who feel that they are subjected to too much pressure bytheir colleagues.
More often than not, the goals set by various managers at ABC Inc.,conflict with each. It was noted that different managers were settingcontrasting goals for the employees. For instance, one manager wouldencourage the employees to work at speed while serving customers. Onthe other hand, a different manager insisted on in-depth and highquality services to the clients. These are two conflicting goals forthe employees. In this regard, the employees tend to engage indisagreements with the managers over which goals they are supposed tofollow (Masters & Albright, 2012). It is evident that these twogoals are extremely hard to reconcile.
Conflicting roles as a source of conflict in the work place
It is a common occurrence at the workplace for managers to assignduties to employees outside their territories of work. This mayresult to conflict in roles where an employee may perform the dutiesof another employee. This conflict in the roles can result intoconflicts at the work place. It is also evident that this aspect mayhappen in the reverse form. Some employees may have the feeling thatsome tasks assigned to them should have been assigned to someone else(Masters & Albright, 2012). This is also a major source ofconflict in the workplace. At ABC Inc., such instances occur due toabsenteeism of some employees due to sickness, day-offs or maternityleaves.
Conflict management strategies
There are a number of strategies that management staff at ABC Inc.can adopt in order to effectively manage the frequent disputes thatoccur amongst the employees and between the employees and themanagement. Although numerous efforts have been made to alleviate anddeal with disputes at the workplace, it is vital to note thatdisputes at the workplace are not bad. Disputes can be beneficial tothe organization if they are managed well (Masters & Albright,2012). It is also critical to note that dispute management isdifferent from conflict resolution. Whereas conflict resolution seeksto resolve disputes, conflict management seeks to reduce the negativeeffects of disputes. Conflict management seeks to increase thebenefits accrued from disputes. Conflict management should ensurethat the conflicting parties learn from the dispute and that theyrealize the need to end the conflict.
The following are the various strategies that can be used to manageconflicts in the workplace:
Conflict avoidance is a technique which is used to manage conflictsin the workplace. It is a technique that attempts to directly avoidthe issue at hand. Managers try and postpone the issue or fail tobring up the contentious issues during meeting. This technique isnormally used by managers as a temporary measure to deal with theissue or as a permanent measure of disposing the argument. However,it is critical to note that this technique can be used for solvingminor quarrels, which are non-recurrent. The technique cannot be usedto manage a disagreement that is major or that which keeps recurring.Managers may also apply this strategy through separating employeeswho severally engage in arguments. In order for avoidance strategy towork in managing conflicts at the workplace, the parties involved inthe dispute must both accept to avoid participating in the conflict.This strategy is applicable when the issue at hand is a trivialissue, which is not worth the time and resources of resolving theproblem.
This conflict management strategy can be applicable in situationswhere the parties involved are too emotional and cannot handle thesituation. It is an effective strategy where an immediate solution isnot available and the management may require additional time to finda solution to the problem (Masters & Albright, 2012). It also anapplicable method when the parties involved do not find any chance ofgetting their concerns met. There are times when a more pressingissue can be at hand and the avoidance strategy can be applied. Insuch a case, avoidance offers the chance to conflicting parties toconcentrate on other important issues. However, in instances where anindividual is representing a group, avoidance may not be the bestmethod that can be applied. This is because the group may bedemanding for action and therefore the relationship between theperson and the group may be negatively affected.
Compromising in managing conflicts ensures that the parties involvedin an argument arrive at an amicable solution where each party issatisfied with the final decision. This strategy demands that eachparty in an argument drops some of the demands in order to arrive ata solution that is acceptable by both parties. The strategy involvesthe signing of agreements, which each party in the argument must meet(Collins & O`Rourke, 2009). In this regard, the management mustfollow up to ensure that the parties fulfil their pledges and observethe agreements made. This strategy provides a temporary solution asthe management finds a permanent solution to the problem. Thisstrategy can also be applied in situations where there are highlevels of tension. It is an excellent method of lowering the stressand tension levels since every party feels satisfied. This method isalso applied when the goals involved in the quarrel do not requireextremely assertive strategies such as collaborating and forcing. Thestrategy often uses communication, where the parties involvedmutually agree on terms. It is, however, vital to remember that theseterms vary from the original goals. Compromising is not the bestapproach to use since it might result in lose-lose situation or awin-lose situation. This strategy does not create long run trustbetween the arguing parties. Additionally, the strategy also requiresfollow up by the management to ensure that the parties fulfil theagreements they sign.
Forcing or competing
This is conflict management strategy where one of the individualspersists his or her pursuit of the concern despite the resistancefrom the other party. For instance, an individual may insist on acertain viewpoint until it goes through or is adopted. This strategycan only be applied in situations where all other less forcefulmethods are ineffective. This management strategy can also be appliedwhen aggrieved parties want to pursue their rights. It is vital tonote that the strategy can be used in dire situations which requireforce such as life threatening situations (Collins & O`Rourke,2009). Research has also found that this strategy of managingconflict is used as the last resort. The strategy is also a quick wayof managing a disagreement between employees or between employees andthe management. It also creates self-esteem to the individuals whoseviewpoints stand. The strategy calls for firm actions againstaggressors and it therefore draws respect from the aggressors.
Whereas this approach may be quick and draws respect fromaggressors, it is vital to note that the strategy may createhostility between the arguing parties in the long run. It has alsobeen noted that the strategy can attract aggression from the oppositeparty. Such aggression might not have been present during theargument. Since this approach uses force, the individual fighting forhis or her right through force may get exhausted. In other words, thestrategy requires enormous energy and therefore it is not the beststrategy for managing conflicts in the workplace.
This is probably one of the best strategies that the management atABC Inc. can use to manage various disagreements among the employeesin the organization. It is a strategy that seeks to bring thedisagreeing parties together in a win-win situation. The strategyensures that the disagreeing parties are satisfied with the decisionarrived at. One of the parties in the conflict tries to approach theother party in an attempt to resolve the conflict. The strategy seeksto identify the underlying concerns for the arguments and finding anamicable resolve to the problem (Collins & O`Rourke, 2009). Thestrategy is applied mainly when a long term relationship between thearguing parties is required. The method also requires the parties inthe disagreement to have high levels of trust. It is also vital tonote that the strategy is adopted in situations where consensus isimportant.
Whereas this method has been viewed as one of the best, it isimperative to note that is also has a few shortcomings. To startwith, the strategy requires a continuous collaborative relationshipto ensure that the trust remains. It is also evident that thestrategy cannot be used in situations which require urgent measures.This is because the method is a slow one which requires consultationbetween the arguing parties. The strategy also requires that allparties involved to commit themselves towards finding a solution tothe issue at hand.
This is a strategy that can be used in conflict management where oneof the parties involved meets the needs and the concerns of the otherparty before meeting his or her own. This is a method that can workextremely well in situations where an urgent resolve is required. Forinstance, in a situation where two individuals are fighting overspace, one individual might opt to allow the other individual use thespace. This strategy is applicable in situations where enough time isnot available to find an amicable solution (Van, 2005). It is amethod that allows for an immediate solution to an argument. Thisapproach requires that one of the parties to admit that he or she iswrong. When this method is applied, it offers an opportunity for themanagement to view the problem from a different perspective and finda solution to the argument.
This strategy has a few shortcomings. To start with, the strategymay give the opponent the opportunity to exploit the other party whois accommodating. It is also apparent that the strategy may attractrepression from the supporters of the party that accommodates.Finally, the strategy may affect the confidence of the person whoaccommodates the opponent.
Whereas the above conflict management strategies may seemsufficient, it is vital to note that there are various steps that themanagement at ABC Inc. should take to ensure that disagreements aremanaged effectively and impartially. As it has been said earlier inthe report, lack of proper communication was cited as one of themajor causes of conflicts in the workplace. The managers and thesupervisors have the responsibility of creating an effective workingenvironment. Although differences in opinions, interests and beliefsare inevitable, the management must be ready to intervene if suchdifferences escalate to interpersonal conflicts. Managers andsupervisors who value their organizations and are ready to delivermust be ready to manage disagreeing parties and get to the root ofthe problem (Van, 2005). The key point to note is that the managersmust focus on the issues at hand rather than the individuals involvedin the dispute.
Whereas avoidance has been cited as one of the strategies to manageconflicts in the workplace, managers must only take this as atemporary measure. Avoiding a conflict does not guarantee that theproblem will no resurface later. Research has found out that avoidinga problem is only creating a chance for a similar problem to reappearat a later date. Unresolved disagreements hide under the workenvironment and only appear later when they are least expected. It isalso critical to note that unresolved problems resurface when stresslevels are high.
Impartiality is imperative in attempting to manage disagreements atthe workplace. There are numerous managers who attempt to seekopinions in regard to the disagreement from one party while leavingthe other out. This is an extremely wrong approach, since it willonly lead mistrust between the arguing employees and the management.It is therefore very critical to seek views from all the parties in adispute (Collins & O`Rourke, 2009). It is vital to clearlyarticulate the problem before embarking on any efforts to manage it.The parties quarreling must also be clearly informed on the steps tobe followed towards finding an amicable solution to the problem. Themanagement and the supervisors must ensure that the employeesinvolved in a disagreement realize the need to find a solution thatis satisfactory to both of them. Conflicts should provide anopportunity for learning and being effective and productive infuture.
In regard to the problem of conflicting resources, the managementmust ensure that it comes up with strategies that ensure that allemployees benefit equally from the available resources. Themanagement must embark on efforts to inform the employees thatresources are limited and that they must not all get what they need.The management must encourage the employees to adopt the spirit ofsharing. However, in instances where the management can afford toprovide the required resources, it should forge forward and provideall the necessary materials to the employees. This would go a longway in avoiding conflicts at the workplace. Conflicting parties mustbe involved in an open talk with the management to ensure that theyunderstand the needs of each other.
In instances where working styles lead to arguments at theworkplace, ensure that people who portray similar working styles areplaced in similar groups. This will be a sure way of avoidingconflicts. If arguments come up in a particular team, considerreplacing or transferring one or more of the employees with varyingworking styles. Personality tests such as Myers-Briggs PersonalityTest can be extremely effective in enhancing people’s understandingof other’s working styles. Personality tests also ensure thatpeople become flexible in accommodating others.
Lastly, communication should be viewed as the main pillar inmanaging disputes at ABC Inc. The management must clearly andfrequently communicate to the employees in regard to the variousrules and regulations within the organization. Employees should alsobe encouraged to air their views and grievances without fear to themanagement and their supervisors (Van, 2005). It was also found outthat employees do not communicate over issues which affect them suchas their different cultures, religions and ethnic groups. Themanagement must encourage employees to communicate over the issuesthat seem to be potential causes of conflicts. In the process ofmanaging disputes, the management must involve all the parties andmust be fair, impartial and issue based.
The issue of workplace conflict cannot be avoided in anyorganization. The management of the organization must be extremelyprepared to manage the disputes that come up within the organization.ABC Inc. faces this problem and this report has presented the variousstrategies that have been proved to work efficiently and effectivelyin managing such quarrels. The organization has employees fromdifferent backgrounds, religions and political affiliations. In thisregard, disputes cannot be avoided. The resources at the organizationare limited and therefore employees fight over what is available. Itis critical to note that conflict management seeks to enhance thebenefits associated with workplace disputes while suppressing thenegative effects. Employees must learn from the disputes they areinvolved in and must realize the benefits of ending their arguments.It is vital to reiterate that impartiality, fairness andeffectiveness must be practiced when attempting to manage anydisputes. The parties involved in any dispute must feel that they aresatisfied with the decision arrived at.
Doherty, N., & Guyler, M. (2008). The essential guide toworkplace mediation & conflict resolution: Rebuilding workingrelationships. London: Kogan Page.
Raines, S. (2013). Conflict management for managers: Resolvingworkplace, client, and policy disputes. San Francisco, Calif:Jossey-Bass.
Masters, M. F., & Albright, R. R. (2012). The complete guideto conflict resolution in the workplace. New York Toronto:AMACOM.
Van, G. B. (2005). Managing workplace conflict: Alternativedispute resolution in Australia. Annandale, N.S. W: FederationPress.
Collins, S. D., & O`Rourke, J. S. (2009). Managing conflictand workplace relationships. Mason, OH: South-Western CengageLearning.