Handling conflict situations.[check] This checklist examines the approach to personal conflict and is designed to help line managers handle conflict when it arises.
Conflict may have many different roots and causes but principally it will arise from differences between people over ideas and through various situations. "Ideas conflict" can be both desirable and creative when handled constructively; "situations" can cause frustration and resentment if not dealt with; "personal conflicts" can be damaging and destructive unless managed with thought and care. Ultimately conflict can cost a great deal of time and money. Most organisations and individuals recognise the need to solve personal conflicts before they become destructive.
Personal conflict occurs when two or more parties take opposing attitudes or approaches to a particular situation, issue or person. Obvious sources of conflict range from a difference of opinion, problematic working conditions or unrealistic work expectations, through discriminatory dis·crim·i·na·to·ry
1. Marked by or showing prejudice; biased.
2. Making distinctions.
dis·crim behaviour (such as racism or sexism sex·ism
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender. ), to poor communication or non-compliance with organisational norms or values.
There are situations where an ethical or practical issue should be confronted without delay. In such cases, conflict can be positive--you may even have to create it temporarily. For example, if a member of staff turns up late every day and the manager fails to confront the individual, this may in future lead to the development of conflict through frustration and resentment in other team members.
Conflict can occur between a member of staff and the manager, between two or more members of a team, or between departments, sections or managers. Whether you are involved directly affects whether you should negotiate with someone else, apply grievance griev·ance
a. An actual or supposed circumstance regarded as just cause for complaint.
b. A complaint or protestation based on such a circumstance. See Synonyms at injustice.
2. or disciplinary measures or mediate MEDIATE, POWERS. Those incident to primary powers, given by a principal to his agent. For example, the general authority given to collect, receive and pay debts due by or to the principal is a primary power. between other parties.
Conflict can be covert COVERT, BARON. A wife; so called, from her being under the cover or protection of her husband, baron or lord. and take the form of resentment in a team member passed over for promotion or irritation irritation /ir·ri·ta·tion/ (ir?i-ta´shun)
1. the act of stimulating.
2. a state of overexcitation and undue sensitivity.ir´ritative
1. caused by an individual's personal habits. Such conflict is much harder to detect and easier to ignore. Whichever type it is, all conflict still needs to be managed before it becomes a destructive force.
The Advantages of managing conflict situations are:
* better motivated staff: staff energies are directed to work rather than emotions
* an organisation or staff that presents a positive image to the outside world
* improved working relationships and team work
* better personal development of individuals.
The Disadvantages of avoiding or failing to manage a conflict situation may include:
* it will fester fester /fes·ter/ (fes´ter) to suppurate superficially.
1. To ulcerate.
2. To form pus; putrefy.
An ulcer. and may spread to others
* staff energies become dissipated dis·si·pat·ed
1. Intemperate in the pursuit of pleasure; dissolute.
2. Wasted or squandered.
3. Irreversibly lost. Used of energy.
* misdirected energies contribute to falling productivity
* inaction in·ac·tion
Lack or absence of action.
lack of action; inertia
Noun 1. may be the easy option in the short term, but the problem will ultimately be harder to resolve.
1. Recognise conflict
To handle conflict you have to spot it. Remember it can be overt--from an obvious or identifiable cause, clearly visible and defined, or covert--from a less obvious cause, hidden and with a potentially unrelated root source (e.g. a member of staff could apparently be in conflict with colleagues, when the real root cause is their perception that a supervisor's treatment of them is discriminatory).
2. Monitor the climate
Monitoring the climate at work gives you an early warning system, which makes it far easier to deal with conflict swiftly and efficiently before it gets out of hand. This does not mean constantly being on your guard; it simply means being prepared and keeping your eyes open. If you see a likely conflict situation, don't turn a blind eye. Early action saves time and stress later.
3. Research the situation
Take time to find out the real cause of the conflict, who is involved, what the key issue is, and what its actual and potential effects are. Empathise--try to see the situation from different points of view rather than make snap judgements.
4. Plan the approach
Don't take sides. Instead, encourage the parties concerned to examine the interests behind their position and try to create a climate of openness so that the parties deal with each other more constructively next time. Work out a strategy based on what this investigation has shown. Managers should decide upon the result they want to achieve, bearing in mind that, as different evidence emerges, this outcome may not always be possible.
5. Handle the issue
Stay in control of the situation. Handling conflict is a difficult process which can create extreme emotions. Use the following techniques.
* Stay calm--take time to respond and don't give a knee-jerk reaction. If necessary take a rain check until everyone involved is calm enough to discuss the issues rationally and constructively.
* Listen to the points of view of all involved and take time to understand all the issues involved in the conflict. It is important to remember that people will be more open and honest if they feel they have a receptive receptive /re·cep·tive/ (re-cep´tiv) capable of receiving or of responding to a stimulus. and interested audience. Think about your body language and spoken language.
* Avoid fight or flight. The instinctive in·stinc·tive
1. Of, relating to, or prompted by instinct.
2. Arising from impulse; spontaneous and unthinking: an instinctive mistrust of bureaucrats. human reaction to conflict is either to run away, or face it and fight. Neither of these approaches is constructive. Flight avoids solving the conflict and leads to loss of respect. Fighting back or being aggressive to one or both parties when you are not personally involved causes greater long term conflict and intimidates staff.
* Stay assertive--this means avoiding being either passive or aggressive; neither is assertive as·ser·tive
Inclined to bold or confident assertion; aggressively self-assured.
as·sertive·ly adv. , and each is a short term approach unlikely to solve the conflict. Passive behaviour = apologising, withdrawn body language, always accepting the other person's point of view whether it is right or not. Aggressive behaviour = being authoritarian, rarely listening to reasoned argument. An assertive approach is generally the best way to handle conflict and it means:
* acknowledging the views and rights of all parties
* encouraging the parties to find the causes of the conflict--and solutions
* trying to ensure that opinions and thoughts are expressed honestly and openly * suggesting a constructive way forward.
6. Let everyone have their say
If you have managed to get the parties around a table for discussion in a climate where an exchange of views is possible then a compromise solution may now be feasible. Remember that your desired solution must hit a wide range of targets. It must:
* help to build good working relationships
* be legitimate, non-discriminatory and compatible with organisational practice
* recognise all parties' alternatives
* help to improve communication
* help to generate a lasting commitment to the solution.
7. Find the way forward
The most important aspect of handling a conflict situation is to find an acceptable way forward. Examine the options and decide what to do next. Can you reach a compromise acceptable to both, or all, sides? If not, what action needs to be taken to prevent the conflict from continuing? Make sure everyone knows what the conclusion is and what they are expected to do.
The next steps need to be agreed and spelled out--it could be an individual's need for counselling, the likelihood of disciplinary proceedings or an agreement to be followed (even moving a member of staff to another department if there is a deep-rooted personal antagonism antagonism /an·tag·o·nism/ (an-tag´o-nizm) opposition or contrariety between similar things, as between muscles, medicines, or organisms; cf. antibiosis.
n. ). Sometimes there may be problems relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc health or psychology--you have to judge where your limits lie in resolving apparently intractable intractable /in·trac·ta·ble/ (in-trak´tah-b'l) resistant to cure, relief, or control.
1. Difficult to manage or govern; stubborn.
2. personal antagonisms.
8. Appraise--don't dwell
It is important to learn from conflict situations and move forward. Don't dwell on dwell on or upon
to think, speak, or write at length about (something)
Verb 1. dwell on - delay
linger over the past and re-open old wounds.
Appraise appraise v. to professionally evaluate the value of property including real estate, jewelry, antique furniture, securities, or in certain cases the loss of value (or cost of replacement) due to damage. the conflict and the way it was handled. Decide what can be learned from this. How can similar conflicts be avoided in the future? How could it be handled better next time? Learn from the experience--and keep your eye on the situation that has been resolved, to stop it flaring flare
v. flared, flar·ing, flares
1. To flame up with a bright, wavering light.
2. To burst into intense, sudden flame.
a. up again.
Dos and don'ts for handling a conflict situation
* Tackle conflict early, to avoid it escalating.
* Think it through and plan how to deal with the conflict.
* Refrain from offering your own opinion before understanding the full picture.
* Try to avoid instinctive reactions.
* Stay assertive.
* Take it personally (unless it is personal); conflict is a fact of life.
* Avoid the issue and ignore the conflict.
* Fight anger with anger.
* Jump in without assessing and understanding the problem.
* Run away.
* Handle conflict in public.
Anger management in a week, Sandi Mann Chartered Management Institute Inspiring Leaders
The Chartered Management Institute is a professional institution for managers, based in the United Kingdom.
In addition to supporting its members, the organisation encourages management development, carries out research, produces a wide variety London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2004
Managing conflict at work: a survey of the UK and Ireland London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the leading professional body for those involved in the field of personnel, training and development. Membership of the CIPD is highly respected and widely accepted by employers as a requirement of practice. , 2004
Dealing with difficult people in a week, 2nd ed, Brian Salter salt·er
1. One that manufactures or sells salt.
2. One that treats meat, fish, or other foods with salt.
Noun 1. and Naomi Langford-Wood Chartered Management Institute London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2003
Managing conflict, Anne Fox London: Spiro Press, 2002
Mediation for managers: resolving conflict and rebuilding relationships at work, John Crawley
John Paul Crawley (born September 21 1971, Maldon, Essex) is an English professional cricketer, who has represented England in 37 Test and Katherine Graham London: Nicholas Brealey, 2002
Resolving conflict: establish trusting and productive relationships in the workplace, Shay shay
[Back-formation from chaise (taken as pl. )]
Noun 1. McConnon and Margaret McConnon Oxford: How to Books, 2002
Tolley's managing violence in the workplace, Bill Fox, Charles Polkey and Peter Boatman Peter Boatman is a former British police officer who now works as a consultant to, amongst others, the Youth Justice Board.
His company, Pro-Tect Systems, is currently the only authorised importer of Taser devices to Britain. Croydon: Butterworths Tolley, 2002
To resolve conflict, do you:
* encourage all parties to explore factors common to their respective positions?
* try to enable the parties to deal effectively with their differences?
* try to make it easier for the parties to deal with each other next time?
* encourage the parties to come up with ways of generating mutual gain?
* encourage parties to work out realistic appraisals of their point of view?
* facilitate questioning of inflexible attitudes?
* know which skills you need to work on?