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Conflict Resolution: A Constructive Approach

Introduction

The case analysis suggests that in the workplace, conflicts are caused by misunderstanding and a low degree of participation in problem-solving. Clearly, if the parties can agree on mutual objectives then the problem is far easier to resolve than if they have conflicting objectless and personal agendas. A year ago, my department was faced with several problems caused by poor performance and lack of managerial support: this led to a conflict between managers and subordinates. At the beginning of the conflict, the actions which might have led to the negative conflict were neglect of the problem, response to the aggressive behavior of others, and subjectivity. At the very beginning, nobody had wanted to solve the problem by avoiding communication and discussions. When the conflict became inevitable, many team members behaved aggressively trying to prove their positions and justified their actions. Aggressive behavior generated violent responses to the problem and subjectivity. Only a constructive approach will help to take into account cultural differences. Before beginning analysis of the problems, in my organization, lack of strategic vision and poor group management can result in low commitment and conflict situations, lack of understanding and satisfaction.

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Problem Statement

This experience shows that the compromising approach begins with the identification of a problem that requires consideration of all team members. If the issue is pursued then it needs to be defined and a fuller understanding of the nature of the issue needs to be gained. Analysis based on a partial understanding of the problem is likely to be flawed. Dealing with personal issues and needs in any negotiation is both difficult and important. Working in teams is beneficial for conflict resolution, because, it helps to focus on the interests rather than the positions that the parties have taken. These approaches can help to de-escalate conflict in teams always looking for ways in which both parties can work together to achieve their common objectives. In order to improve the situation in my organization, it is important to take into account the main problems and conflicting situations that occurred between the top team members.

Literature Review

Literature review on the topic discusses different approaches in conflict resolution and proposes diverse strategies to overcome it. In the article, “Understanding and managing conflict in organisations” Hede (1990) states that group conflict has a great impact on performance and human relations. Research into group conflict points out that groups can work through conflicts successfully, and when they do, it strengthens the group’s ability to deal with future conflicts. Another researcher, Robbins (2005) singles out: functional conflict and dysfunctional conflict. In other cases, conflicts undermine the group process and set the stage for ongoing problems and reduced group effectiveness in the future. Some recent research examines the longer-term effects of conflict on group performance. Madison (2004) in “A Pattern-Oriented Approach to Fair Use” discusses the research issues in conflict resolution and considers what they call “task complexity” as a moderating variable, which aligns with the notion of quantitative and qualitative balance in relation to conflict. An alternative view is proposed by) who states that there two factors are needed to produce conflict: cognitive disharmony and affective disharmony.

Jehn and Mannix (2001) in ”The dynamic nature of conflict” state that group dynamics depend upon group norms, group cohesiveness, and group roles assigned to different group members. Similar to these researchers, McKenna (1994; in Hayes 2002) states that seven factors influenced group cohesiveness: similarity of attitudes and goals, time spent together; isolation of group from others; threats from an outside group, size; stringent entry requirements; rewards for group performance; problems. The small group is a subsystem within the larger organization. As such, it is subject to the same forces as the larger system. The behavior of one group member affects all of the others. Influencing behavior carries beyond the face-to-face meeting. Individual employees interact “off-line” in settings other than meeting rooms.

McAfee (2006) underlines that in conflict situations the managers perceived that any structural changes caused by IT implementation in public agencies have little impact on organizational performance (measured as improved ease of communication and improved technical decision making). However, the managers tended to regard IT adoption as having a direct positive impact on improving technical decision making (as opposed to an impact on decision making by way of influences on structure). The framework treats IT developments as emerging from interactions among objective technologies such as computer hardware and software, organizational forms such as bureaucracies and networks, and institutional arrangements such as cultural and legal conditions.

Pelled et al (1999) state that in conflict situations, the poor climate in an organization influences the level of morale and attitudes which members of the organization bring to bear on their work performance and personal relationships. Bad communications lead to conflict. In this situation, members of the team cannot find a unified and single solution for the project or program competing with one another during meetings and negotiations.

Problem analysis

In my organization, many individual elements affect the way the top team operates: the reason the top team was formed, the personalities of the members, the information or resources the top team has, the type or style of leadership. My organization should be seen as a complex set of interdependent parts that interact in ways intended to adapt to the constantly changing environment. The organization is described as made up of components consisting of individuals, structural and functional groups, technology, and other equipment. All of the system’s parts are dependent upon one another in the performance of an organizational activity, and any change in one-part influences changes in the other components.

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In my organization’s top team is faced with task conflict and relationships. Task roles relate to the task output of the group. They should focus on the business of moving the action forward toward a conclusion, a decision, or a solution. Maintenance roles affect the interpersonal dynamics of the group. Both of them have a strong influence on the social climate. Certainly, leaders seek and give opinions and take on a clarifying and coordinating role. In this case, their personal conflict leads to task conflict and poor climate and morale. In contrast, good leaders should energize their groups and provide evaluation and criticism of the group product. The primary social and maintenance roles that a leader might take on include being a supporter and encourager, a harmonizer when it is called for, and a gatekeeper to make. Executive leadership poses an additional challenge. However, beyond the task of conducting or facilitating effective meetings with other executives and managers, those who would aspire to be recognized as organizational leaders need to project some qualities beyond simple role assimilation. Part of the antagonism and hardening of position by the newcomer was attributed to the ambiguity produced by this disconnect between her approach to group interaction brought from a different person and the new culture she had tried to establish.

Proposed Solutions and Recommendations

The proposed solution for conflict resolution is compromising. Good facilitation helps people make the connection between the quality of their work and the way they treat each other as they do the work (Belbin, 2004). Working on a complex project, the team cannot come to an agreement about the best solution and future project development needs. The team has worked on this project for half a year and has to accept the most important decision related to project outcomes and success. Each of the employees proposes his problem-solving approach but refuses to accept or analyze the approach proposed by other employees. Some of the team members have no interest in their job because they cannot be creative and innovative. Motivational conflict is also inevitable and on some occasions can actually be beneficial to the greater well-being of the organization. The main causes of the conflict are lack of mutual trust and poor communication between team members. While it is still a good course of action to prevent misunderstanding when it does arise the effective manager needs to understand the nature and the causes of the conflict and then choose an appropriate action to deal with it.

Compromising will help the organization to improve climate and morale and avoid conflicts in the future. Teamwork and organizational design influence organizational culture and performance. The case of the project conflict proves that well-thought organizational design and teamwork lead to a positive climate and high morale of employees. To the extent that organizations can agree on goals and on the means to attain them, organizational politics can be reduced. In the absence of this qualification, there will be differences of opinion and conflict. Differences of opinion that take in all available points of view are useful in formulating the right goal. However, if the conflict becomes bitter, focused on personalities, or results in power struggles, the organization will be harmed. Few organizations retain the dispassionate efficiency to consistently focus on totally clear and agreed-upon goals. What is clear is that in all organizations, at least some stakeholders will disagree as to means or ends. Therefore, there will always be some degree of political activity and the use of power. Nevertheless, generalizations can be made about the kinds of organizations in which there is more likely to be agreement on goals and the means to attain them.

Team members worry about conflicts and experience some stress caused by work problems. The organizational interest is served by the foregoing approach because it benefits from the decision maker’s personal interest and effort in controlling each supporting dialogue. In effect, the decision-maker addresses and works out the concerns of the interested parties in each of the component dialogues as part of the decision-making process. The usual result is a rational decision acceptable to all the interests involved. At present, the managerial playing field is not level. In order to avoid such situations in the future, the HR manager should pay attention to (1) the personal needs of employees and (2) their career hopes, (3) interest in the job they perform, and (4) possible training programs. Also, it is important to recognize a level of responsibility and advancement opportunities for professional workers. The appeal approach is solving conflicts is also a part of the ethical program. It implies that the organization’s main task is to help employees to keep their ace and meet moral and ethical principles they value. In such a situation, the committee is composed of employees from the organization and various representatives of community organizations. Once both the project capabilities and community needs are established, then some form of ethical procedure is established for determining the best solution (Pelled et al 1999).

On the basis of this theory of conflict management psychologists started considering what can help managers to change the behavior and way of thinking of their employees so that the latter supported the conflict situations within their organizations. First of all, the people have to see the goal of conflict resolution and what is critical – to agree with it. If the employees change their behavior and support conflict recognition and rewards can be used to confirm this attitude. Compromising is the best solution for the organization to manage conflicts and solve problems. And managers themselves are supposed to be role models for their employees. This theory of conflict resolution in general and the statement under discussion (about influencing employees’ feelings) are true and the examples show that they work better than forcible conflict resolution. The only problem with this policy can consist in managers’ lack of psychological skills to communicate conflict resolution approaches well but these skills can be learned. The psychology of management is the exact qualification that will allow managers to implement necessary changes when they are needed (Madison, 2004). For instance, if members of the team are not open and friendly, they fail to perform effectively and solve current problems. Another approach is to view communications as a pattern of interconnect­ing lines or networks. If the group or team lacks understanding, the decision-making will fail to fulfill its aim. Each member of the team contributes something different, but they must all contribute towards a common goal. The main problems that affected decision-making and problem-solving include lack of mutual understanding, lack of openness in relations and damaged relations, chaos situations. Party conflict resolution will be an important part of conflict management (Mills, 2003).

Conclusion

In sum, the case study of work experience suggests that the manipulation and co-option skills of managers mean identifying the leaders’ position and finding ways to control them an explicit part of the conflict resolution program. The use of explicitl or implicit‘ methods or, in other words, the implementation of power culture forces employees to accept conflict resolution treated with firing, transferring or not promoting. The conflict resolution process will be an essential aspect of strategic improvements. Strangely enough, of all these characteristics, conflict resolution is must be misunderstood. The very idea seems completely foreign to the modern mind. It is often deliberately confused for advantage–strategically. Generally speaking, careless use has made the word meaningless and rendered contemporary organizations all but dysfunctional. As a matter of fact, it is so exclusively a part of strategic systems that they all necessarily engage in strategy, even in refusal. The results are disastrous: promises are not kept, expectations are not fulfilled, and good faith and goodwill are lost. To improve the conflict situation, my organization should improve climate and morale among top team members and introduce compromising as the main strategic tool of conflict resolution, establish strong corporate norms and rules to direct and motivate top managers.

References

Belbin, R.M. (2004). Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail, 2nd Edn, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

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Hayes, N. (2002). ‘Why use teams?’, from Managing Teams: A Strategy for Success, 2nd edn, Thompson Learning, London.

Hede, A (1990). ‘Understanding and managing conflict in organisations’, Corporate Management, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 39-43.

Jehn, K.A. & Mannix, E. A. (2001). ‘The dynamic nature of conflict: A longitudinal study of intragroup conflict and group performance’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 238-251.

Madison, M. J., (2004). A Pattern-Oriented Approach to Fair Use. William and Mary Law Review, 45 (4), 1525.

Margerison, CJ & McCann, D. (1995). Team Management: Practical New Approaches, Management Books 2000, Didcot.

McAfee, A. (2006). Mastering theThreeWorlds of InformationTechnology. Harvard Business review. November pp.141-147.

Mills, H. (2003). Making Sense of Organizational Change. Routledge.

Pelled, L. P., Eisenhardt, K. M., Xin, K. K. (1999). Exploring the Black Box: An Analysis of Work Group Diversity, Conflict, and Performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 44, pp. 1-5.

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Robbins, S. P. (2005). Organizational behavior, 11th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Schuler, R. (1998). Managing Human Resources. Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.

Slade, S. (1994). Goal-Based Decision Making: An Interpersonal Model. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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