Care delivery settings are stressful environments, in which nurses experience pressure not only to meet patients’ needs but also to interact with each other and avoid conflicts effectively. However, the extreme workload, the lack of staff, the unequal distribution of resources, leadership issues, and other complications can lead to different conflicts among professionals, subsequently contributing to disruptions in operations. In this assignment, a recurring conflict in a hospital setting in Miami will be discussed for the purpose of developing an effective action plan for subsequent conflict resolution.
Description of the Conflict in a Hospital Setting
The conflict in question occurred between nurses and their managers who did not provide a schedule for his employees’ work and left nurses to decide how they would distribute shifts between each other. This led to an even conflict between nurses who could not come to an agreement on who should and should not work night shifts. The nurses said that their supervisor “thought that we have no personal lives” and was “extremely condescending” when trying to resolve the problem. This conflict arose because the practice of negotiating a schedule was not usual for nurses; they were generally preoccupied with patient care and fulfilling their responsibilities without the burden of being worried about their schedule. However, their manager decided to delegate his responsibility to nurses to reduce his workload. It is important to note that the manager mentioned that he wanted to “make it easier for employees to choose shifts appropriate for them” and that “it was not a big deal.”
At the moment, nurses follow a temporary plan of shift distribution that seemed the fairest to them. Although, some of them have children and need to be at home at night while others are still studying and have to attend lectures, which creates more complications for nurses because they are not used to negotiating schedules and have usually resolved any issues with the manager. The conflict continues to be unresolved because the supervisor verified the temporary plan and refused to make any changes to it. As nurses started following the plan, they have noticed more disruptions in the process because some of them struggled with coming in time for morning shifts due to university deadlines while others showed poor performance due to not being used to working at night.
Stages of Conflict
Since any conflict is composed of four stages, it is important to discuss them in the context of the described situation in the Miami hospital setting. Latent conflict is the first stage and characterizes different factors that can potentially cause conflicts. In the presented case, these factors included the managers’ decision not to develop a fair schedule that would ultimately upset nurses. Perceived conflict is the second stage and arises from a misunderstanding between parties. In the scenario with the nurses and their manager, the perceived conflict is associated with the fact that workers did not understand why they had to be the ones to develop the schedule when this job was clearly meant to be done by their supervisor. Felt conflict is the next stage and is characterized by certain attitudes and tense atmosphere in which a conflict is about to manifest. In the case of nurses, the felt conflict was in their personal dissatisfaction with the actions of their manager as well as with the latter’s condescending attitude towards his subordinates. Manifest conflict is the last stage and is associated with the actual argument characterized by open confrontations, disobedience, sabotage, aggression, and poor behavior. In the scenario, the manifest conflict is seen in arguments between nurses who had to collaborate for developing a schedule, the unproductive conversations between the supervisor and his subordinates, as well as confrontations in the workplace when nurses were dissatisfied with their schedule.
Is Delegation an Issue?
Delegation is definitely an issue in the described scenario because the manager assigned his responsibility to subordinates and made them decide on how the schedule should be created. While delegation is an aspect of management leadership, it is important to note that the one who delegated his or her work should be held accountable. The manager, on the other hand, did not want to take any responsibility for his actions and left his subordinates in a stressful and unfair situation that encouraged arguments among them.
Resolving a conflict between a supervisor or manager and their subordinates is a complicated task since the majority of misunderstandings in the nursing workplace are mitigated by the management. However, developing effective resolution strategies is essential for ensuring that caregivers do not experience further stress that disrupts their productivity (Johansen, 2012). Because the conflict described in the scenario involves a nursing manager and his subordinates, the higher management of the hospital should engage in its resolution. The first stage of the strategy should include clarification of the issue by getting a perspective from both sides of the argument. The second stage is recommended to include a collaborative model of behavior to facilitate communication between the manager and his subordinates. As reported by Baddar, Salem, and Villagracia (2016), the cooperative strategy was shown to be the most preferred style of conflict resolution that nurses in hospitals use. Importantly, collaboration is a strategy that nurses not only use with regards to the communication between each other but also when resolving conflicts with patients. Usually, nursing managers use the strategy of compromise as their primary method of conflict resolution; this method can also be applied to mitigate the argument because nurses usually exhibit an avoidance approach (Johansen, 2012).
Balancing compromise and avoidance may be challenging, especially because nurses are generally fearful of expressing opinions when dealing with conflicts while managers are eager to challenge their opponents for reaching a consensus. An effective conflict resolution strategy to mitigate the negative atmosphere in the hospital setting should conclude with fostering a positive work environment of respect for the entire healthcare team (McKibben, 2017). It is important to note that the goal of a hospital setting is ensuring the provision of high-quality care to patients, which means that regardless of the situation in the workplace, patients and their well-being are a priority for nurses and their managers.
Important points to consider during conflict resolution include cultural differences of people involved in the argument as well as attention to different grievance systems that employees may have. With regard to cultural differences, nurses come from different backgrounds and therefore approach the issue of conflict resolution according to their cultural roles. For instance, it has been found that Hispanic individuals prefer using social influences and negotiations in a conflict compared to North Americans (Gomez & Taylor, 2017). Also, the manager and nurses should also take into account that their personal grievance systems may be different, which means that they should find common ground in overcoming the conflict (Katz & Flynn, 2013).
As seen from the described scenario, conflicts in hospital settings appear not only between nurses but also between them and managers who put pressure on their subordinates and delegate responsibilities while avoiding being held accountable for them. The delegation was a crucial component of the conflict because nurses were not usually responsible for negotiating their schedules in order to avoid misunderstandings. The exploration of the four stages of conflict showed that the argument between the manager and his subordinates had developed gradually, which means that there were some possibilities in resolving the argument before it broke out. This is an important point to consider in the future because nurses and their supervisors should do everything in their power to avoid a conflict in the first place; if a conflict appears, it is essential not to wait long and resolve it as soon as possible in order to make sure that patients receive top-quality care at a health facility.
Overall, the experience taught how nurses should not behave in a conflict situation. Despite the fact that their manager showed the lack of professionalism and responsibility, the nurses should have come together as a team and tried to avoid further exasperations of the situation. This is important to consider in the future because conflicts will happen, and nurses will have to work in a group to ensure that the needs of their patients are met.
Baddar, F., Salem, O., & Villagracia, H. (2016). Conflict resolution strategies of nurses in a selected government tertiary hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, 6(5), 91-99.
Gomez, C., & Taylor, K. (2017). Cultural differences in conflict resolution strategies. A US-Mexico comparison. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 6(2), 1-10.
Johansen, M. (2012). Keeping the peace: Conflict management strategies for nurse managers. Nursing Management, 43(2), 50-54.
Katz, N., & Flynn, L. (2013). Understanding conflict management systems and strategies in the workplace: A pilot study. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 30(4), 1-5.
McKibben, L. (2017). Conflict management: Importance and implications. British Journal of Nursing, 26(2), 100-103.