With Conflict Resolution Nothing is Straightforward and Simple
The style of problem solving and conflict resolution is the most important factor in determining group effectiveness. Research has shown that the predominant mode of conflict resolution that characterizes leadership and management groups is the most significant variable in determining whether or not companies are profitable.
The manner in which managers resolve problems and overcome conflict within their organizations may appear of little consequence as long as the problem is solved and the conflict is eliminated. However, managers must understand the group dynamics that impact solutions and their consequences.
There are various modes of conflict resolution that come into play in the workplace. Some define the group by the norms accepted. Other styles of conflict resolution may be appropriate to the circumstances surrounding the problem. Nothing is straightforward and simple.
It is important for managers to understand the complexity of problem solving and conflict resolution. There are specific methods and techniques that managers should use and apply to be consistently effective. However, they should recognize there are other styles of conflict resolution that can be more effective, depending upon the circumstances and the makeup of the individuals involved. Managers must learn to recognize all modes and when they are best applied.
There are a variety of conflict resolution modes that managers will find to be common in the workplace. It should be noted that most groups often act in ways that contain one or more of these styles in their efforts to deal with conflict:
Smoothing and Avoiding
These groups tend to be comprised of accommodating individuals who, when a problem or conflict occurs, will tend to define it in a manner that minimizes the differences between individuals. Their objective is to maintain the status quo within the group. As a whole, this method of conflict resolution is destructive because it does not address the central issues or actually resolve the sources of conflict. Consequently, these issues tend to fester within the group and will emerge later as a larger issue.
The group norms that identify the smoothing and avoiding behavior include individuals who tend to withdraw when attacked in order to avoid conflict. Additionally, individual group members tend to keep their feelings and remarks in check so that they don’t surface. This effectively masks internal conflict and prevents the manager, as well as the group, from identifying the undercurrents that are present.
Confronting and Problem Solving
This form of conflict resolution represents the healthiest behavior. The members of this group tend to be collaborators. They will define the problem relative to the total organization’s needs versus their own. The outcomes of this group are interdependent if the total group benefits from the solution.
The group norms that identify the confronting and problem solving behavior include individuals who feel it is important to bring out and confront the differences of opinion and perspective within the group. They also feel that all solutions to conflict should be open and fair to all involved and to the organization as a whole. The group will tend to arrive at answers and solutions by reason rather than the application of personal power and authority.
Confronting and problem solving behaviors are generally the most effective mode for resolving group conflicts.
Bargaining and Forcing
This form of conflict resolution behavior favors and is beneficial to specific power groups and personal agendas. It takes a winning-at-all-costs slant that positions one group against another. The problems tend to be defined in terms of the stakes of each group. The participants and the atmosphere are confrontational and adversarial. The outcome favors one group at the expense of all others.
The group norms that typify bargaining and forcing behaviors include individuals who will seize the advantage whenever possible and compromise when the advantage is the other group’s. Individuals will tend to maximize the benefits for themselves over the other individual members.
Excerpt: Conflict Resolution: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (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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