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Conflict Resolution Strategies and Styles

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Published: Wed, 07 Feb 2018

Abstract

The world is turning into globalization concept to increase the productivity and efficiency to achieve the organizational goals. To achieve standard effectiveness of the organization the number of techniques and strategic management tools used in different ways either combining/integrating one and other or straight way use one technique. People techniques and organizational techniques are playing very vital role in developing the organization and growth of it. With the help of integration of these techniques we can achieve the effective results after applying in the organization. Organization and people are strongly inter-related to each other. So the effective use of these people technique directly effect on the organization and vise versa. The conflict management is the people technique but effective and timely use of this technique can give the advantage to the organization on the competitors. The consideration of the competitive advantages is very important while making the organizational strategy. The skilled people are the competitive advantages over the same functional competitors. This skilled people force give you a huge competitive advantage and that should be avoid resolving the conflicts between them timely. Conflict management is a key success factor for any organization and we are considering this technique while the formulation of the organizational strategy like CPM (competitive profile matrix) is the organizational technique to formulation strategy. Integration of these techniques (Conflict management & CPM) will directly affect the business in positive direction.

Keywords:

Competitive profile matrix (CPM), Internal factor evluation (IFE), External factor eveluation (EFE), Kye success factors, Conflict resolution Style, competitive advantages, latent stage,congnition and personlization, Key success factor (KSF)

Introduction

“Competition & people” these two words are always interrelated in all the areas of the globe. New technologies, tools & methods provide extraordinary results in every sector of business world. But apart from those “people” in the organization will also play a vital strategic role to success of any business and stand as a leading competitor in market. Applying people techniques into Organizational techniques and vice versa, and integrating of these techniques for an organization will help to its growth in the market. Key success factors (KSF) are usually understood to be the set of factors that can be considered key to the continued success of an organization or a business. These factors may be ‘skills, tasks, or behaviour’, they can operate at a number of levels and be used for a diversity purpose .There are many key success factors will impact to a successful organizations. And these key success factors will helpful to compare the rival competitors in the market. Competitive profile matrix (CPM) is a strategic management tool to communicate with the attributes and shows the competitors in the market. And it is setting up the stages to describe your competitive advantage and the basis for your company strategy. In every organization there will be some conflicts among peoples, groups and departments, by resolving these issues among them in timely lead the organization in positive direction among the competitors in the market. It means when we compare the competitive organizations in the market, we will consider some of the key success factors, and with these key success factors (KSF) we can build the competitive profile matrix, for each success factor , indicators are measures of performance should be established and tailored , the identified information will need to be developed or modified to ensure that the success key information is collected, analyzed, and distributed, in other words , it helps to ensure that the organization’s information support the key activities and thus the wider objectives. In CPM there are five main attributes, like key success factor, rating, weight, weighted score and total weight score; here we will give the ratings for each factor its ranges from 1 to 4. 1 is low, and ‘4′ is high, means when we compare the organizations we will put the common key success factors (like, advertising, etc…) and assign the rate for each factor. And assign the weight of the each key success factor, it ranges from 0 to 1 (low to high), weighted score value is the result achieved after multiplying each factor rating with weight. While integrating these techniques (people & organization) we can put conflict management as one of the key success factor, in CPM. Means how effectively and timely the conflicts are managed in organizations among the people, groups & dept’s. Always healthy environment in any organization helpful to its growth, by taking advantage of this making as “conflict management” is a strategic people technique, and integrating with the organization technique CPM, when the total weighted score in CPM is ranges between 1(low) to 4(high). If the total weight score fall below 2.5 consider as week, higher than 2.5 is consider as strong in the position. The firm with higher total weight score considered as winner in competitive market. Catching the competitor’s weak point and making it as strong point for your organization and managing any conflict issues timely in organization, makes you as the leader of the market.

People Technique (Conflict management)

What is conflict?

Conflict is the process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively affected by another party. Conflict is a process in which people disagree over significant issues, thereby creating friction between parties.

Conflict can exist when people have opposing interests, perceptions, and feelings; when those involved recognize the existence of differing points of view; when the disagreement is ongoing; and when opponents try to prevent each other from accomplishing their goals. Although conflict can be destructive, it can also be beneficial when used as a source of renewal and creativity. A competition and rivalry between individuals or groups over an outcome that both seek, is not the same as conflict. In competition, there must be a winner and a loser; with conflict, people can cooperate so that no one wins or loses.

When people think of the word conflict, they often think of wars or violence. However, conflict exists at all levels of society in all sorts of situations. It is easy to forget that we experience conflict every day of our lives. Conflict happens when two or more people or groups have, or think they have, incompatible goals.

However, in most cases we resolve the conflict. From a personal level to international level, good communication is usually used to overcome differences and to reach an agreement before violence breaks out. At a personal level, we often do not realize we are overcoming our differences.

It is important to remember that conflict can be creative. Conflict is sometimes necessary to bring justice where injustice exists. It can provide an opportunity for new social and political systems to be established and can help to shape the future. However, when conflict becomes violent it will usually do more harm than good. After violent conflict, it is often difficult to see the opportunities for a better future due to the widespread destruction of infrastructure and livelihoods, the breakdown of trust and the suffering caused through bereavement, trauma, grief and anger. It is also likely that such social change could have occurred before the conflict became violent.

Transitions in Conflict Thought:

Conflicts are an everyday phenomenon in each organization. Conflicts are impossible to avoid, but it is possible to manage them in a way that we recognize the conflict symptoms in time.

It is necessary to continuously track the organizational signals, which point to their existence. In case we do not react in due time, this can lead to a situation where the conflict itself manages the organization. Problems mostly occur in those organizations where the business results directly depend on collaboration, team work and creativity, and where having only the results in mind, we tend to forget to take care of people and mutual relationships.

Disagreement which occurs when goals, interests or values of various individuals or groups are incompatible and those people block each other’s efforts for accomplishing goals is called organizational conflict. Reduction of work performance efficiency, reduced communication among employees, motivation fall and ultimate employees’ dissatisfaction are only some of the numerous negative consequences of conflict. But the conflict itself does not have to be negative; the majority of conflicts can in fact be an excellent ground for accomplishment of better business results, and an impulse for changes and growth of the

Organization itself [5x].

Duly recognition and adequate conflict management can lead to series of positive effects like stimulation of creativity and innovation within the company, stimulation of changes towards work quality improvement, reduction of incurred tensions etc.

Moreover, in case conflicts lead to constructive changes they should be encouraged in order to make a good relation among employees based on mutual respect. Sometimes conflicts should be regarded as a resource which enables us constant new learning, new knowledge and a potential growth and development of organization.

The employees directly involved in the conflict often do not have the opportunity to cope with the whole situation or the impact of all elements in the given situation, mostly because of restricted ability for decision-making. [6x]

Throughout the years there were times when conflict was perceived in a different way, so we distinguish:

  • Traditional view of conflict
  • Human relations view
  • Interactionist view.

Traditional view

of conflict in ‘30s and ‘40s of the last century it is believed that the conflict is something bad, that it is destructive for the organization, and that it should be avoided. It is considered that the sources of conflict are mostly the results of bad communication and lack of trust. According to this standpoint one should avoid conflict, as well as people who make the conflict, so that the work performance be satisfactory.

Human relations view is that the conflict is something natural which occurs within every organization. This view is characteristic for the period from the ‘40s to the ‘70s of the last century. It is considered that conflicts should be accepted, and that conflicts eventually can lead to better work performance.

Interacionist view

is still represented today, and is based on the approach according to which conflicts should be encouraged, because they tend to have a positive effect on creativity and innovation by the employees. [6x]

Types and levels of Conflict

There are four types of conflict.

Inter-group conflict occurs when groups within and outside the organization disagree on various issues.

Interpersonal conflict Interpersonal conflict emphasizes the interaction of human factors in an organization. Here we are concerned with these factors as they appear in a dyadic relationship. It is further classified into two classes of factors as conflict sources. These are:

Personal.Individuals are not identical, constant or consistent. When two individuals are brought together and kept together, each with their own qualities, needs and skills, a conflict may ensue if their attributes are not meshed together in a coordinated way. Interaction between individuals with different attitudes, values and needs can produce conflict behavior and affect organizational performance.[8x]

Functional.

Individuals in organizations have roles which are expected sets of behavior associated with their position. In theory, individuals are not expected to engage in any discretionary behavior. Such specification would be consistent with organizational preferences for consistency and predictability. In practice, however, role specifications tend to be ambiguous and incomplete, and in their interaction with others, some individuals often feel dissatisfied with their role or position, or they may feel that their aspirations for higher positions are being frustrated. Interpersonal conflict can be accounted for, to a great extent, in terms of the incumbents’ roles and their expectations in particular situations.

Intra group conflict

  • occurs within a work group over goals and work procedures.

Intrapersonal conflict

  • Intrapersonal conflict is internal to the individual and is perhaps the most difficult form of conflict to analyze and manage. Intrapersonal conflict is basically a conflict between two incompatible tendencies. It arises when a stimulus evokes two different and incompatible tendencies and the individual is required to discriminate between these tendencies. [7x]

Horizontal conflict

  • takes place between departments or groups at the same level of the organization. In contrast, vertical conflict occurs between groups at different levels of the organization.

Types of Conflict

  • Task conflict: Conflicts over content and goals of the work
  • Relationship conflict: Conflict based on interpersonal relationships
  • Process conflict: Conflict over how work gets done

Organizational conflict:

Organizational conflict occurs when a stakeholder group pursues its interests at the expense of other stakeholders. Given the different goals of stakeholders, organizational conflict is predictable. Conflict is associated with negative images, such as unions getting angry and violent, but some conflict can improve effectiveness. When conflict passes a certain point, it hurts an organization.

If we do not react duly, this can lead to the situation that the conflict itself manages the organization. One of the more important determinants of productivity, efficiency and performance, and finally job contentment is also the conflict as an independent variable of organizational behavior. By systematic research of organizational behavior we want to make a positive influence on dependent variables, but first we have to understand and get a good insight into individual elements of organizational behavior. There is strong relationship between the level of conflict and the impact on the Organizational performance. [8x]

Personal conflict:

Conflict sometimes has a destructive effect on theindividualsandgroupsinvolved. At other times, however, conflict can increase the capacity of those affected to deal with problems, and therefore it can be used as a motivating force toward innovation and change. Conflict is encountered in two general forms. Personal conflict refers to an individual’s inner workings and personality problems.

It was also pointed out that there is a basic incompatibility between the authority and structure of formal organizations and the human personality.Human behaviorcannot be separated from the culture that surrounds it.[5x]

Many difficulties in this area are beyond the scope ofmanagementand more in the province of aprofessional counselor, but there are some aspects of personal conflict that managers should understand and some they can possibly help remedy. Social conflict refers to interpersonal, intergroup, and intergroup differences.

Role Conflict:

Another facet of personal conflict has to do with the multiple roles people play in organizations.Behavioralscientists sometimes describe anorganizationas a system of position roles. Each member of the organization belongs to a role set, which is an association of individuals who share interdependent tasks and thus perform formally defined roles, which are further influenced both by the expectations of others in the role set and by one’s own personality and expectations. For example, in a common form of classroom organization, students are expected to learn from the instructor by listening to him, following his directions for study, taking exams, and maintaining appropriate standards of conduct. Theinstructoris expected to bring students high-quality learning materials, give lectures, write and conduct tests, and set a scholarly example. Another in this role set would be the dean of the school, who sets standards, hires and supervises faculty, maintains a servicestaff, readers and graders, and so on. The system of roles to which an individual belongs extends outside the organization as well, and influences his functioning within it. As an example, a man’s roles as husband, father, son, and church member are all intertwined with each other and with his set of organizational roles.[4x]

Conflict within groups:

Conflicts between people in work groups, committees, task forces, and other organizational forms of face-to-face groups are inevitable. As we have mentioned, these conflicts may be destructive as well as constructive.

In western culture, winning is more acceptable than losing, and competition is more prevalent than cooperation, all of which tends to intensify intragroup conflict. Group meetings are often conducted in a win-lose climate — that is, individual or subgroup interaction is conducted for the purpose of determining a winner and a loser rather than for achieving mutual problem solving[5x].Conflict arises in groups because of the scarcity of freedom, position, and resources. People who value independence tend to resist the need for interdependence and, to some extent, conformity within a group. People who seek power therefore struggle with others for position or status within the group. Rewards and recognition are often perceived as insufficient and improperly distributed, and members are inclined to compete with each other for these prizes.

Interdepartmental Conflict

The third major cause of organizational conflict is structural. Organizations are designed around product lines, regions or technical specialties. These activities are assigned to departments that often have mutually exclusive structured interests and goals and that interact within a framework of scarce resources and task dependence. When resources are relatively fixed and when one department’s gain is at the expense of another, conflict should be expected. If two sub-units in an organizational system have differentiated goals and are functionally interdependent, conditions exist for conflict. Interdependence produces the need for collaboration, but it also presents occasions for conflict. [9x]

Other contextual factors which affect the interaction structure between departments and create the conditions for interdepartmental conflict include: different attitudes between line and staff units, organizational size (directly related to level of conflict) and standardization (inversely related to conflict), physical or communicational barriers between departments, unequal access to authority, rewards or organizational resources and ambiguity or uncertainty in assigning tasks or rewards to different departments. These are the sources of conflict situations in organizations.

How a conflict situation will change over time, how its interrelated components will alter and the environment, in which it occurs will respond, is dependent upon the administrator’s efforts to manage or influence it. This in turn is related to one’s understanding of the source of a specific conflict situation.

Process of Conflict:

Process of conflict consists of 4 stages or levels of conflict according to which the development of relationships between the sides involved in conflict is shown.

The first stage is also called as

latent stage

in which certain characteristics, like communication, structure and personal variables, can lead to conflict. It is important to point out that it is not necessary to have the simultaneous occurrence of all three factors, but occurrence of just one. Communication in organization is very important, in case there is lack of communication in the organization this can lead to conflict. But also to much communication, as well as obstacles in communication, possible lack of understanding or noise in the communication channel can produce conflict as a consequence.

The second stage, cognition and personalization stage represents the outcome of the impact of first phase factors. We distinguish two sub stages in this stage:

  • Perception of the participants in conflict – which does not mean that conflict, has occurred.
  • Not until there has come to articulation of feelings and expression of awareness of conflict, can we say that the conflict itself occurs.

In the third stage there comes to conflict manifestation. There is hostile behavior among participants in conflict and we say there comes to the so called open disagreement.

The last stage in this process of conflict is the conflict outcome which shows us the further relationship development of the participants in conflict and consequences of conflict. Consequences of conflict can be manifest through increased working efficacy of the organization in whole or quite the contrary, the decrease of working efficacy [8x].

Conflict management styles:

The success of the organization depends on the ability of conflict recognition and the very way of conflict management. Conflict management implies integration of all factors which can contribute to conflict resolution or its prevention. Those factors are improvement of communication and practicing discipline in the organization, as well as having in mind the life phases of parties included. Different authors know about various approaches to conflict management. Besides five typical approaches and strategies on conflict management which we will show and explain, it is important to point out that an important role bears also the organization itself as the third party in conflict. The organization appears as the mediator between adversaries or as arbitrator. This third party in organization are managers which by using their experience have to constantly develop new strategies and tactic for conflict resolution by using their experience. Moreover, it is generally acknowledged that conflict represents the most severe test of manager’s interpersonal skills.

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STYLES DIAGRAM:

Thomas and Kilmann identified a conflict-handling grid comprised of five conflict management styles based on two dimensions: assertiveness and cooperativeness.

Assertiveness is the motivation of an individual to achieve his/her own goals, objectives, and outcomes, while cooperativeness assesses the willingness to allow or help the other party to achieve its goals or outcomes. Any of the five conflict resolution styles might be appropriate based on the circumstances of the situation and the personalities of the individuals involved.

Avoiding Conflict Resolution Style

The avoiding style is low on both assertiveness and cooperativeness. In other words, the manager is not very cooperative in helping the other individuals to achieve their goals, but neither is he/she aggressively pursuing his/her own preferred outcomes in the situation. The original problem, conflict, or situation is never directly addressed or resolved. However, avoiding behavior might be appropriate when the issue is perceived by the manager to be trivial. It might also be an appropriate approach to use when there is no chance of winning or when disruption would be very costly.

When is Avoiding Appropriate?

Avoiding conflict can be an appropriate choice, depending on the circumstances. According to Thomas-Kilmann avoiding is an appropriate form of dealing with conflict when used in the following situations:

  • When an issue is trivial and other issues are more important or pressing – use time and effort where it will be most productive.
  • When there is no opportunity to constructively address the concern – attempts to deal with the problem will likely result in futility and may make matters worse. It may not be the right time or place.
  • When the potential cost of confronting the conflict outweighs the benefits in addressing it – this requires assessment and judgment.
  • To buy time and give angry people an opportunity to “cool down” so that tensions can be reduced – it is important for parties to take a break to regain perspective and composure when the situation becomes heated.
  • To refrain from making a rushed decision and allow time to obtain more information or support – well planned and prepared decisions are usually the best decisions.
  • When it is more appropriate for others to resolve the conflict – resist getting in the middle of conflicts that are better dealt with by other people.

Working with Conflict Avoidant Individuals

It is clear that the use of avoiding dealing with conflicts and differences can have both positive and negative implications. When working with individuals as a supervisor, mediator, or friend it is helpful to get them to consider the pros and cons of avoiding conflict. Developing a strategy or plan requires that conflict avoidant individuals at least consider their options. [10x]

Choosing a conflict mode other than avoiding may be understood by conflict avoidant people as a better option but acting on this choice can still be very difficult. Ensure that emotions are under control so that the facts, beliefs, and goals regarding the disagreement can be clarified and understood as objectively as possible. Excessive fear can be emotionally paralyzing.

Role playing or writing out a plan of action can give a conflict avoidant person the confidence they need to deal with the conflict. Assertiveness coaching may also help. These preparatory approaches allow individuals to express their thoughts and feelings in a manner that is typically less stressful than talking about them spontaneously.

It is possible that one party will be in a relative power position over another, such as a boss vs. employee. In these situations involve a person in a mediator role who can be neutral yet balance the power relationship so that the weaker party will develop the courage to address their concerns. When this is not possible the weaker party may need to include another person as a third party advocate or observer to help give them some support. [10x]

Competing Conflict Resolution Style

The competing style of resolving conflict is also known as the win-lose approach. A manager using this style, characterized by high assertiveness and low cooperativeness, seeks to reach his/her own preferred outcomes at the expense of other individuals. This approach may be appropriate when quick, decisive action is needed, such as during emergencies. It can also be used to confront unpopular actions, such as urgent cost cutting.

The strategy of “competing” as a means of gaining power and control stems from early childhood and is reinforced throughout our years in school and college. Many children learn that they can obtain material objects as well as social control over people by using assertive, demanding or aggressive behavior. As they mature they use their talent to compete to “be the best” student, athlete, musician, etc. or to socially compete to be popular and have status among peers. Some youth learn to deal with disagreements by persuading others to accept their position. Others use power negatively in the form of arguments, threats, intimidation, or physical fighting. Youth who are effective at competing are deemed to be successful. Children and youth who do not stand up for themselves in conflicts may be seen as weak. Many video games and other media directed at youth promote the thrill of engaging in conflict with the goal of defeating the “enemy”, often using any means possible. All of these dynamics promote the use of competitiveness. While parents and teachers also instruct children to be kind, considerate, and cooperative there remains a strong inclination toward using competitiveness as a means of solving problems and achieving success.

The value of competing to resolve differences and achieve goals continues into adulthood and employment. Individuals compete for status and position within organizations, sometimes being rewarded for their ability to achieve business goals by being better than their internal colleagues or external business competitors. Successful leaders demonstrate an ability to strategically use their competitive energy and skills for personal and professional benefit. While competing can be productive it can also cause problems when used excessively or inappropriately. It can lead to misuse of power, fraudulent acts, and unethical or illegal activity as we have seen in the situation at Enron and in other business and political events in the news. Truly successful people develop the judgment and skills to use competitiveness effectively and appropriately. [10x]

Competing is an appropriate form of dealing with conflict when used in the following situations:

  • When a quick decision and action is needed.
  • When the outcome is critical and cannot be compromised.
  • When you know you are right and are doing the correct thing.
  • In emergencies or when safety is a concern.
  • When being right matters more than preserving the relationship with the other party.
  • When important but unpopular actions are needed such as cost-cutting, down-sizing, enforcing rules, or administering discipline.
  • When one’s position, authority, or rights are being challenged.
  • When implementing strategic change and strong, confident leadership needs to be demonstrated.

When used inappropriately competing in conflict situations can lead to negative consequences such as:

  • When it strains relationships leading to resentment and retaliation.
  • When it causes intimidation which inhibits important communication, discussion of alternative ideas and attempts at problem solving.
  • When collaboration or compromise would lead to a better exchange of information and better decisions or outcomes.
  • When personal drive for power and control overrides the best interests of the organization.
  • When it results in diminished commitment and support from staff.
  • When it is indicative of a highly competitive personality trait resulting in overuse, causing a person to not recognize when it is important to quit or take another stance.
  • When “winning at all costs” results in harm to people or the organization.
  • When the personal relationship is more important than the issue at stake.

In attempting to address a conflict with another person who differs with you and takes a competitive position it may be helpful to do the following:

  • Allow the person to first thoroughly explain their position, asking clarifying questions.
  • Summarize and repeat what you have heard to assure mutual understanding.
  • Acknowledge the parts that you agree with.
  • Ask the party to carefully listen to your position, clarifying points of agreement and disagreement, using logic and data to support your perspective.
  • Consider having both positions put into writing for review and consideration.
  • Minimize discussion or expression of feelings or subjective elements unless the other party seems open to this perspective.
  • Point out the mutual benefits of a decision that involve collaboration or compromise if this is an option.
  • Help the other party to understand how your position will benefit him/her and how they can gain from agreement with your proposal.
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