Effective change management should evaluate the role of conflicts in change implementation properly. Practice shows that any reform that transforms the common operation flow is associated with the increase in psychological tension and stress that are likely to cause additional disagreements. Different types of workplace conflicts, including confronting conflicts and the conflicts of interests, tend to impede the process of change implementation significantly (Mahon & Nicotera, 2011). Therefore, effective conflict management strategies are essential to ensure a smooth and consistent change implementation.
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Research reveals that one of the most effective tools that change management can apply to avoid potential conflicts is negotiation. Hence, the negotiation method implies the use of varied communication techniques that help to reduce the tension and eliminate the roots of emerging confrontation. Effective negotiators consider workplace conflicts complexly, evaluating all the associated aspects, i.e. the conflict context, its cause, and the individual peculiarities of the main parties (Bryant & Stensaker, 2011). As a result, effective negotiation practices should be essentially adopted to ensure conflict prevention and facilitate change.
Numerous studies provide evidence for the critical role of a team leader in conflict resolution and the establishment of appropriate communication patterns. Hence, for instance, recent research has revealed that the major part of workplace conflicts cannot be resolved without the timely intervention of a leader. This finding is mainly explained by the fact that the participants of the conflict show low concern about its resolution and do not possess the essential communication skills to negotiate the agreement (Brown et al., 2011). As a result, the involvement of an external party, i.e. the team leader, is imperative.
The role of power is critical in the frame of effective communication and conflict resolution. Hence, consistent distribution of power and the establishment of a recognized leader allows for effective negotiations and the elimination of different communication-related problems that might emerge in the course of the change implementation. The lack of leadership power leads to the employees’ refusal to obey the assigned guidelines and the enhancement of the existing confrontations (Janss, Rispens, Segers, & Jehn, 2012).
On a large scale, conflicts appearing in the course of change implementation have negative implications for the progress of a transformation. Hence, recent research that examines the roots of a change failure reveals that a large number of unsuccessful implementations can be explained by the intense confrontation within the workforce (Dogherty, Harrison, Graham, Vandyk, & Keeping-Burke, 2013). From a different perspective, conflicts can be helpful as they let leaders identify the key flaws in their team management practices and eliminate them before implementing change.
It is assumed that the conflicts that may potentially arise in the course of the implementation of the proposed change will be associated with the power distribution. Hence, some of the key change actors have vast professional experience, while others do not have substantial practice. As a result, experienced workers are likely to try to take the dominating positions provoking the resistance in their inexperienced colleagues.
To avoid the described confrontations, leaders must ensure consistent segregation of duties so that every actor is responsible for a particular aspect of change. Additionally, they should use effective communication techniques to guarantee that all the team members have a shared vision of the change value and strive to achieve a common goal.
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Brown, J., Lewis, L., Ellis, K., Stewart, M., Freeman, T. R., & Kasperski, M. J. (2011). Conflict on interprofessional primary health care teams – can it be resolved? Journal of Interprofessional Care, 25(1), 4-10.
Bryant, M., & Stensaker, I. (2011). The competing roles of middle management: Negotiated order in the context of change. Journal of Change Management, 11(3), 353-373.
Dogherty, E. J., Harrison, M. B., Graham, I. D., Vandyk, A. D., & Keeping-Burke, L. (2013). Turning knowledge into action at the point-of-care: The collective experience of nurses facilitating the implementation of evidence-based practice. Medical Education, 46(9), 838-849.
Janss, R., Rispens, S., Segers, M., & Jehn, K. A. (2012). What is happening under the surface? Power, conflict, and the performance of medical teams. World Views on Evidence-Based Nursing, 10(3), 129-139.
Mahon, M., & Nicotera, A. (2011). Nursing and conflict communication: Avoidance as preferred strategy. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 35(2), 152-163.