Showing posts with label conflict management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conflict management. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Effective Methods for Managing Workplace Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of being in a society and regularly occurs  in personal and professional arenas. In the workplace, disputes can be especially destructive as issues spread to other members and damage the ability of people to work together. Learning to develop a healthy style of conflict management helps minimize damage quickly and keeps the company moving in the right direction.

Collaborating with others is one of the best methods of managing a business as it solves problems and helps keep people focused on goals (Paul, et. al., 2004/2005). When all parties are interested in resolving differences and finding an equitable solution, stronger companies emerge. The collective action of solving conflict forces the organization to get stronger as it reaches to overcome issues.

Conflict management styles determine the  preferred approach when problems arise that cannot be easily rectified. People react to challenges in different ways but fundamentally take an obliging, integrating, avoiding or dominating approach (Anjum, Karim, & Bibi, 2014).  Applying the wrong style to an explosive situation can lead to further problems.

Obliging is giving in, and this can be beneficial when the issues are not important, or the person may be entitled to what they are requesting. For example, if you forgot to return an item to a coworker and conflict results than obliging them is appropriate. Respecting the needs of others helps reduce pending issues.

Integrating is a useful method for creating strategies that blend the interest of multiple people into a shared vision. Stakeholders needs and issues are integrated into the solution so that involved parties can come to an agreement. This often occurs during negotiations or planning the use of resources.

Avoidance occurs when avoiding the person, and their demands is the primary objective. This can be counterproductive if the behavior crosses boundaries but may be beneficial if there is nothing to gain from the conflict. An aggressive person who has little to do with your core business should be avoided unless they become destructive and challenged.

Dominating is a standard approach where people seek to create power over each other instead of power with each other.  Escalating conflicts usually occur because of these dominating actions where one person attempts to force compliance of another person. For example, companies may fire an employee who vandalized property in the best interest of the organization.

Managers spend a lot of time resolving employee and customer issues and it is important to be familiar with how personality impacts the overall process of development. Creating shared visions is be a primary tool but when this isn't likely to occur, due to unreasonable demands, it is important to use one of the other approaches to find a constructive resolution. Resolving a problem quickly can help in minimizing its damage.

Anjum, M., Karim, J. & Bibi, Z. (2014). Relationship of values and conflict management styles. IBA Business Review, 9 (1).

Paul, S. et. al. (20014/2005). An empirical investigation of collaborative conflict management style in group support system-based global virtual teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 21 (3).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Managing Conflict by Moving from "No" to "Yes"

Conflict is something that most of us experience from time-to-time in our lives but many of us don't know how to deal with that conflict. Conflict can occur in the workplace, at home, among friends, in politics and just about anywhere else. Understanding the nature of conflict and how to overcome obstacles can help you getting what you want and diffuse explosive situations.

Those who learn to manage conflict find that they live in a much more receptive environment to their ideas and needs. They minimize the negative effects of conflict and enhance new opportunities. Understanding and knowing how to manage conflict can lead to all types of new pathways that were once closed.  The presentation created by the business instructor Bill Davis.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Three Methods of Mastering Your Mouth for Career Conflict Outcomes

“It is not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Our ability to say the right things at the time they are needed is a very important skill in developing stronger working relationships and advancing our careers. Without a keen mastery of the nuances of language and the emotional intelligence to choose the right timing for choice words it will be difficult for people to advance in their careers. Mastering your mouth can have advantages in workplace conflict.

Let us assume for a minute you are sitting in a board room brooding over the decisions and comments of a meeting member. Instead of working in a collaborative manner he or she is attempting to push their weight around and bully the group into accepting their ideas as their own. This is extremely frustrating to you. The behavior is so destructive that it creates encampment on the team, raises the stress levels, and seems to make everyone agitated.

In business there may be a time and place for a pushy executive that can cram their opinions through a team to make things happen. This is most beneficial in crisis situations but destructive in strategic planning. Despite its advantages in limited situations it can also show a serious lack of respect for the abilities of others and the ability to engage a wider group of stakeholders. The emotional infant has risen.

Before becoming angry and challenging the person directly and publicly it is beneficial to first sit back and think about alternatives that may be more effective in handling this situation.  You may be screaming on the inside and wanting to push back with equal force but a pitched battle could have a disastrous result for the team and the achievement of team goals; not to mention your own career. 

In my experience there are three ways to deal with such an over aggressive person who doesn't seem to understand either the needs or concerns of others. You can 1.) confront, 2.) redirect, or 3.) befriend. Each has their own level of success in helping master the situation.

1.) Confront: Confront is the most common and entails either direct equal force verbal attacks and bullying. An eye for an eye mentality showing the other person you are not going to back down and they must accept your issues. Other variations include escalating the problem to superiors or undermining the bully in subtle ways. One may work sometimes and another may fail disastrously. When a hyper aggressive bully has no sense of common decency you may need to draw a red line and stick to it.

2.) Redirect: Redirecting is the most successful method but does take considerable skill to master well. When an pushy person is sure they are right it is often beneficial to draw them into a conversation by encouraging greater elaboration as well as questioning of their logic. Boisterous individuals love to talk about themselves and drawing them in, redirecting, and drawing in again will help slowly adjust their logic into something more beneficial for the group.

3.) Befriending: Not all pushy people are trying to force their will on others and may actually be defending their needs by posturing. If you suspect the person is really trying to do the right thing but doesn't know how to negotiate well it is better to befriend them and become a sounding board for their needs in a more appropriate manner. You may help the group better bridge the gaps between the varying parties while gaining the trust of each member.

The workplace is always full of different conflicts, problems, and personalities. With a little practice and foresight you can better manager your mouth for a higher outcome. It is an interpersonal skill that takes some time but will place you in a leadership position more through wisdom then brute strength. You will avoid destructive battles that can damage your career while improving on your leadership position within the organization.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Managing Project Conflicts

Conflict is inevitable in public projects and activities. This the case when money, influence, and limited opportunity abound. By changing the fundamental nature of stakeholders from power over to power with a higher level of collaboration can occur that leads to better results. A paper by Eivind Brendehaug shows how the planning process can be improved when local stakeholder interests and conflicts can be compromised and integrated into the development process (2013).

Co-management is a concept that helps to explain strategic development with three aims that include 1.) fulfill management aims, 2.) distribute cost and benefits among local stakeholders and authorities, and 3.) supplement representative democracy to reduce conflicts (Brechin et. al. 2003). It is a process of reviewing the varying issues inherent within projects and then finding a way to co-develop that concept.

When projects are developed they rest in the authority of the planners. The planners have instrumental power over the decisions, institutional power over the processes and cultural power over information (Lukes, 2005). This means that the entity in charge of projects has both real and perceived power that stakeholders naturally look to for direction.

Most planning projects are seen as zero sum games where there are clear winners and losers. The process of power over certain entities creates distrust and lack of engagement in the developmental process. Creating plus sum situations encourages higher levels of engagement and requires a paradigm shift of power to increase the likelihood of project success.

Each stakeholder has their own needs and wants. No one should expect to get everything they want as this is a public project. However, by listening to their needs, wants, fears, and concerns it is possible to create a greater match between the production process and stakeholder participation that leads to a more beneficial project.

The case study is important because it helps highlight a few points. Stakeholder develop analysis models for understanding problems and this impacts their influence in the process. The developing authority must desire the participation of stakeholders to realize goals. Conflicts are great sources of information in understanding worries and claims to help planners address these issues. Proper management can move planning from a zero-sum to a plus sum process that hedges the interests and abilities of the stakeholders.

Brendehaug, E. (2013). How local participation in national planning creates new development opportunities. Systemic Practice & Action Research, 26 (1).

Brechin, S. et. al. (2003) Contested nature. Promoting international biodiversity with social justice in the twenty-first century. State University of New York Press, New

Lukes S (2005) Power. A radical view, 2nd edn. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke