Conflicts in the work environment are inevitable. When two or more people need to work together and combine ideas, the door for conflict is always open. The goal is to learn how to use conflict as a tool that benefits the whole rather than destroying it and the idea of caring. A team must have a common goal for success (Temme and Katzenel, 1995). Several strategies have proven to be helpful tools in resolving these destructive conflicts.
Conflict is defined as disagreement or disharmony that occurs in groups when disagreements are expressed regarding ideas, methods, and members (Wisinski, 1993). However, these differences do not have to lead to a negative result. Used correctly, the group can get closer and become more aware of the differences between the others. With mutual respect, the group can combine ideas and end up being more successful.
Management is ultimately responsible for identifying a conflict, introducing conflict resolution strategies, and ensuring that those strategies are implemented successfully. In order for school management to achieve this goal, for example, they must be aware of the types of conflict: constructive and deconstructive. Constructive conflict is beneficial for teams. This style focuses on the problem while still maintaining respect for other teammates. Teammates demonstrate flexibility, support, and collaboration with each other. The commitment to the team’s success is evident. Deconstructive conflicts, on the other hand, show selfish behavior of personal attacks, insults and defensiveness. There is no flexibility within the team and competition between teammates is intense. Conflict avoidance is evident (UOP, 2004)
Many external influences can cause or exacerbate conflicts. Limited resources (UOP, 2004) can lead to stress among employees. For example, if a teacher is concerned about a lack of resources for their students, he or she may show high levels of stress. This in turn can affect any slight friction shared with other faculties. Differences in goals and objectives (UOP, 2004) also create tensions between employees. For example, one teacher’s focus may be on sports and recreational equipment, while another may focus more on academics and updated texts. These different student goals can create additional tension and conflict between employees.
Miscommunication (UOP, 2004) can lead to conflict between employees. Two teachers with the same goal may not be able to clearly explain each other’s points. When messages are not clear, confrontation and conflict will most likely result. Teachers who share different attitudes, values and perceptions (UOP, 2004) open the door to conflict. Much like teachers with different goals, different attitudes, goals and perceptions cause immense stress for the entire faculty and staff. Finally, personality conflicts (UOP, 2004) are probably the most common problem between a group and perhaps the easiest to overcome. When dealing with a mature, adult mentality, personality differences should not affect the work environment or the goals of the group. A lack of training, lack of accountability and favoritism from administration (First Line, 2007) can also lead to conflict. Teachers and other faculty need to keep the most important aspect of their work (the children) in focus. As adults, they are responsible for their own actions and behavior.
The ability to discern the nature of the conflict allows management to direct the conflict accordingly, with the goal of a positive outcome, rather than falling into a spiral of destruction. After identifying the nature of the conflict, management (or administration) can choose from three different resolution methods: the “4-R” method, the AEIOU method, and the negotiated method.
First, the 4 R’s method (UOP, 2004) stands for: Reason – The leader is responsible for identifying whether feelings about the conflict are expressed differently within the team. You also have to localize all the personal situations that exist between employees. Finally, the leader needs to clarify whether the team is aware of her position; Response – The leader is responsible for evaluating how the group is responding to each other. One should determine whether the conflict is constructive or destructive. Once established, the leader must decide whether the conflict can be turned into a constructive conflict if it was originally destructive; Results leaders should now explain the consequences of this conflict. The entire team, including the leader, must determine if the conflict is serious enough to affect the goal or outcome; Solution – Finally, the whole team should discuss all possible methods that contribute to a successful solution and which is the best. The “4-R” method guides teams step by step through a solution process. This style helps assess the situation and helps redirect the conflict to a positive outcome.
Second, the AEIOU model (Wisinski, 1993) stands for: A- assuming that others “mean well; E- express your feelings; I- identify what should happen; O- Outcomes you expect are made clear to the group” (UOP, 2004); U- The group’s understanding is at a mature level. This model clearly communicates your concerns to the group. Suggestions for alternative methods are presented to the group in a non-confrontational manner. By maintaining a calm demeanor, the management of the group is saying that they want the group to be successful.
Third, the negotiation method (UOP, 2004) focuses on a compromising stance. By separating each person from the problem, each teammate can focus on the interests of the group rather than their personal positions. This technique creates opportunity for a variety of possible solutions that can be achieved. The manager is responsible for expressing the importance of an objective view when choosing a solution. Through the negotiation technique, everyone knows the problem and the goal, and everyone is willing to put their personal feelings aside in order to achieve the common goal (Krivis, 2006).
Another type of strategy, known as the NORMS method, helps the administrator or leader remain objective while dealing with a conflict in the work environment. NORMEN stands for (Huber, 2007): N-Not biased or personal interpretation; O-Observable, situation is seen and touched or experienced by staff; R-Reliable, two or more people agree on what happened; M-Measurable, conflict parameters can be distinguished and measured; S-Specifics are not subjective, but objective and non-confrontational. By following the NORMS, one can observe the situation with an objective perspective. Therefore, he or she can support the team in the conflict with the right focus, bring the team together and resolve the conflict, and benefit from the experience.
Each method promotes a friendly environment that welcomes different ideas. The differences can ultimately benefit both the group as a whole and the particular project or situation. As Temme and Katzenel state, “For team building efforts to work, management must have a genuine determination to see the team building process through.” (Calling a Team a Team, 1995).
As an administrator or leader, one is responsible for steering the team toward cohesion and compatibility. This goal can be achieved during a conflict by representing each team member equally, recognizing the issue, and listening to each concern with equal importance and respect. In order to achieve agreement and a common goal, each teammate or employee must respect others for their differing opinions and goals, but also remain open-minded. Conflict can be beneficial to a team as it brings new ideas and perspectives to the table. Clear communication and openness can turn a conflict into an advantage rather than a liability.
Thanks to Summer Willis | #Conflict #Resolution #Strategies #Workforce