Conflict management

Do Conflicts At Work Cause Problems?

Everyone knows that you can never see eye to eye with everyone you work with. Conflicts at work are inevitable no matter the job or circumstances. Howard M. Guttman (2009) states that “It can destroy morale, polarize co-workers and divert precious energy from meeting business goals”(p. 2). People often fail to stop and analyze the effect of conflicts on a businesses and employees. No matter what happens to cause the conflict, and considering the inevitability of conflicts, workers need to be patient and understanding when conflicts occur. Workers need to keep a level head and put them self in the shoes of the other person before jumping to conclusions. Workplace conflicts can cause many issues, they can be a source for lost time, hard feelings, and they can seriously ruin the relationships of workers. Conflict does not only affect the workers of a business, it takes a toll on the management as well. When a conflict occurs it causes unneeded stress on a manager. They have to take time away from other tasks that they are working and divert energy to solve issues that should be able to be handled at a lower level. This can translate into longer hours and hard feelings between the workforce and management.

What Causes Conflicts In The Workplace?

Conflicts in the workplace can be caused by many factors. The evolution of the workplace to a fast paced organization has changed the effects that conflicts can have on a business. It also has changed what people in the business get uptight about. Work teams are a good place for conflicts as you blend a lot of people and personalities. Some other factors that lead to conflicts are people of different cultures. When you mix people from different parts of the world the way other cultures see things may be offensive or demeaning to another culture. Also the work habits of people can cause problems these are factors that some people don’t foresee as something that would create a conflict. Personality is another breeding ground for conflict, and seems to be a very common cause of conflict. Age is another great cause of conflict. People from older generations see things much differently than those of a younger generation. The younger generations likes to play around and work at the same time, while the older generation just wants to get the job done and go home.

Are Conflicts All Bad?

Many people look at conflicts as a bad thing or a major disruption. A very real misunderstanding about conflicts is that they are all bad and have negative effects on a business and the people who work there. Conflict can be a great source at times for some much needed change in an organization. It can also be the building block for new ideas or concepts to be formed. Conflicts can be a great time to stop the situation, and take a look at current trends or thoughts and take time to revise them, possibly creating something new and innovative. When people or teams in a workplace come to a situation that causes conflict they need to take the opportunity to look at the situation and see if it can be used as a positive experience. Taking the chance to reevaluate the situation and make it a positive change can drive a company to new and better heights. This will also not degrade the relationships and adversely it may make the workers become a closer and more effective team and increase their capabilities.


How Do You Resolve Conflicts?

The author Howard M. Guttman lists 5 actions or activities that a human resource management or manager can do to help work through conflicts between teams or individuals. These actions can be used no matter the conflict level from the minor conflicts to the some of the most severe. Action 1 states; Howard M. Guttman (2009) “Be a custodian of team alignment”(p.4). As a manager it is your job to manage. This does not mean that you need to take time and manage every little detail of a project. As conflicts occur make sure that you over see the conflict resolution but do not overstep the bounds. Let the employees handle the situation until it gets out of hand or to a point that work is being affected. Once the resolution has been reached, make sure that all the members of that team are on the same page. Make sure they are all working toward the same goal and that everyone understands his or her role on the team and for the project. Make sure that the individuals are accountable for the actions, not only of themselves but that of the team as well. Action 2 states; Howard M. Guttman (2009) “Drive/Monitor accountability”(p.4). Accountability can be a very intimidating term to many people. Employees love to have the ability to make choices in the tasks or jobs that affect them. However they also need to understand that the actions they take can have consequences. This will require the employee to make more informed and logical decision, and not just fly by the seat of their pants. Accountability in my opinion is a very hard thing for a manager to stick to, but you have to keep in mind that empowering employees to problem solve can have a negative effect on him or herself and the employees around them, and those situations need to be handle accordingly. This will only strengthen the problem solving process of that team or employee in the future. Action 3 states; Howard M. Guttman (2009) “Help assess the team’s conflict management behavior”…”Playing the victim generally exacerbates a situation by sweeping conflict under the carpet. It causes hard feelings and delays the inevitable. The second option is often unavailable. Besides, conflict is a given. You better learn to deal with it here and now. Changing yourself is fine, but don’t count on being able to do it. The question is: What price are you willing to pay? This leaves confronting as the most effective way to resolve issues without igniting thermonuclear war. We have already spoken about the value HR can add by continuing to hold up a mirror so the team can see the areas in which it is slipping back into misalignment. After the initial alignment, the same technique — asking the team members to self-assess, and then reflecting their responses back to the entire group — can be used by the internal HR consultant to help the team assess how well it has succeeded in changing the way it deals with conflict”(p.4). Action 4 states; Howard M. Guttman (2009) “Cultural differences”…”The way we communicate — or fail to communicate — with others often varies with our cultural heritage. Different cultures have very different levels of comfort with self-assertion. It’s well known that in the Far East people tend to be much less forthcoming during business meetings, especially with outside associates or higher-level executives in their own organization. And behavior that many Americans view as hospitality and friendliness can come across as too pushy or overly familiar to people who are used to building relationships over a long period of time.”(p.6). Action 5 states; Howard M. Guttman (2009) “Ensure the right capability set on teams”…”Helping teams and players assess their current stage of performance enables them to identify gaps and make plans for the corrective actions that can get them moving”(p.6). Utilizing these 5 tips can be a great way for management to track and intervene in conflicts at work.

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What Are My Five Suggestions For Effective Conflict Management?

After reading this article it really makes you step back and reevaluate how you look at and deal with conflicts. A manager can take these tips and create a flourishing and inspired workplace by turning conflicts into opportunities to grow.

My first recommendation is to acknowledge that dealing with people can and will breed conflicts. You need to evaluate the situation and take the proper action as the manager to solve the issue. Don’t jump to conclusion and set aside any emotions you may have toward the situation.

The second recommendation is to allow people to try to work out the conflict between themselves. If they cannot come to a logical and acceptable conclusion then as a manager you need to step in and guide them in the proper direction. This may be a hard thing to do but “fixing” the issues will not help either party solve future problems for themselves.

The third suggestion is that you need to keep an open mind and look at the issue from both side of the argument. One person may be correct but you need to look at what the other person sees and try to get them to think in the direction you want them to go without insulting them and making the problem worse.

Fourthly keep emotions and friendships out o the conflict. It may be your best friend in the world, but as a person you have to do what you feel is right and not what your emotions tell you to do. This is a very hard thing to do but it is vital to any conflict.

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Finally take into account different cultures and the way others may look at your views. You understand how you think. Other people may not have a clue as to your thought process so explain it, and listen to what they have to say don’t just shut them out and continue to argue.

I will take this information into my new career and use what I have learned in any conflicts that I run into. I learned that conflicts are inevitable and as a manager you have to take the bad and try to make good out of it. This will help you and your team succeed.

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