Conflict Is More Than Simply ‘Not Getting Along’
Conflict is commonplace within any organization. Whenever individuals of diverse interests and backgrounds interact with each other, discord will arise. In some management circles, this friction is viewed negatively; however, when effective conflict resolution techniques are applied, productive agreements can be reached. This strengthens both individual personal relationships and the organization as a whole.
Conflicts should be considered part of the normal business environment. They arise because managers build teams consisting of diverse people with different abilities. This is what brings a sense of balance to the team and facilitates a synergy created by a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet even when a team is developed with productive synergy, conflict will arise.
The key to effective conflict resolution is to view it as an opportunity, not just as a sign that a problem exists within the organization. A team created with a productive synergy brings many diverse viewpoints and perspectives to a situation or problem. While conflict enters in when these perspectives clash with one another, this is the opportunity to stimulate a healthy debate around the issues and build a consensus.
The problem many managers have is that some individuals loathe conflict and prefer to run from it, which confines them to a play-it-safe world where little is accomplished or learned. Additionally, the conflicts are allowed to fester, resulting in long-term problems that will at some point need resolution.
When managers encounter conflict within their organization, there are four critical factors that they need to be cognizant of to assure that the situation can be resolved successfully. These are:
While conflict presents a healthy opportunity for an organization to grow, all parties involved in the dispute must possess the right attitude if the situation is going to be resolved, which won’t happen without a healthy outlook.
If both parties don’t want to arrive at a resolution, it won’t happen until someone intervenes; however, the conflict can still continue to fester if one or both parties feel the outcome was forced.
Often when conflict occurs, personal differences, agendas and feelings about past problems arise and interfere with the resolution. Until all parties are willing to put these issues aside and look beyond them and at common issues and concerns, the conflict will not be resolved.
All parties must ask themselves what is more important to them: clinging to their personal opinions and perceived injuries, or working together to solve a problem or issue that is important to the organization and ultimately to each individual involved in the conflict?
Within the context of conflict resolution, true communication must take place. This process requires doing more than just persuasively arguing for one point of view over another; it requires proactive listening to learn and appreciate the other person’s needs and concerns.
Before any successful resolution can take place, all parties’ needs and concerns must be addressed. Thus, effective communication is the key to effective management and organizational health.
Dedication to the Success of the Relationship
The manager’s goal in conflict resolution must go beyond merely keeping the peace and averting a crisis. Rather, they must foster a productive relationship between the individuals involved in order to build positive momentum.
If managers want this momentum to be successful and enduring, resolution must be dedicated to the success of the relationship, and not to the fulfillment of one group’s wishes over another. All parties must stay focused on what is good for the organization rather than on the quest for power and advancement of their personal agendas.
The key is to face the problem, separate the parties involved from it, and then commit to resolving the matter in a way that meets all participant needs. Conflict can develop into an opportunity for all parties to grow while simultaneously advancing the organization.
Excerpt: Conflict Resolution (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
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