Workplace conflict is a common issue and leaders and managers should be able to apply conflict resolution skills to manage and solve the issue. Poor conflict management results in unattained goals, reduced productivity, and negative outcomes like increased turnover rate in the business. This calls for the need to identify and solve tensions and constructively resolve the conflict. Gilley, Godek, and Gilley (2009) explain that the organizational change process mostly results in conflict in business. We are living in a rapidly changing environment, which increases the aspect of organizational conflict. Nonetheless, the situation can be resolved through conflict resolution strategies and interpersonal skills, which will result in positive outcomes in a business (Folger, Poole, & Stutman, 2017). Consistently, this paper will explore the issue of conflict and conflict resolution through work experiences in my previous workplace.
The Conflict between Subordinates and Managers
It is common to have personality clashes between employees and managers. I had the first-hand experience with personality clashes, which resulted in interpersonal conflict between the manager and me. I was working under a department supervisor who applied the authoritarian form of leadership style. The managers used to set ambitious goals for the employees who used to set us up to inventible conflict and failure. I remember one time he gave me a task that was urgent. I was required to work more hours and overtime but irrespective of my input to the task, I failed to meet the deadline. This was demotivating, as I did not receive any grants but worse, I was not paid for the overtime processes. I ended forming a negative perception and emotions towards the supervisor.
Source of Conflict
One source of conflict is conflicting goals where, for example, an employee is requested by two different supervisors to achieve contradicting goals (Baack, 2017). The second source according to Spaho (2013) is conflict over resources where there are limited resources and favoritism occurs where some employees access the resources and others do not. The third source of conflict is an interpersonal conflict, which forms a toxic environment. Judkins (2012) explains that personality clashes are the greatest cause of conflict in any business. Personally, the source of the conflict was personality clashes where the manager and the employee share conflicting perceptions and emotions. This was because of the effective conflict which Folger, Poole, and Stutman (2017) argue that it occurs when emotions and feelings are incompatible.
Levels of Conflict
Spaho (2013) explains that there are five levels of conflict: intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, intergroup, and intraorganization conflict. The form of conflict that occurred in my case is interpersonal conflict. For this assignment, I will explore the interpersonal conflict. According to Folger et al. (2017), interpersonal conflict occurs when two managers maneuvers for a larger share of corporate capital or when two supervisors are competing for a similar promotion. Wilmot et al. (2007) explain that interpersonal conflict is a result of personality differences. However, one aspect I learned from the situation is that personality differences is a psychological issue and have nothing to do with formal interactions and job requirements. The second cause of interpersonal conflict is clashes of interest and values where members of one department may have varying values and beliefs resulting in conflict.
The third cause of interpersonal conflict is perceptions, which result from persons of varying pieces of training, education, experiences, and backgrounds. Scarce resources also result in an interpersonal conflict where employees compete over scarce resources (Baack, 2017). The issue is worse if the resources are scarce, making it hard for the managers to enhance the resources. In the example above, the personality clash can be grouped as an interpersonal conflict resulting from power and status differences where managers distribute their authority concerning power.
Strategies to Solve Personality Mismatch
Handling a personality mismatch requires the management to boost an understanding between the supervisor and an employee so that both individuals understand the other party’s perspective of the situation. One aspect to note is that the conflict management situation should not be viewed as a disciplinary hearing where the employee is seen as wrong while the manager is on the right. Following such a strategy would demotivate the employee who in no time would quit the job. There is a likelihood of the supervisor and the manager not moving along, which the management can resolve by putting the employee under another supervisor.
The theoretical model to adopt during this process is the interpersonal negotiation strategies (INS) model, which combines both information-processing and cognitive-developmental perspectives. According to this model, the cognitive development of an individual is directly related to the ability of the parties to coordinate their social perspective towards self and others. The two parties, in this case, require following the reciprocal level or the self-reflective level where they step up mentally outside the self and adopt the perspective of the other party. In this case, I had to step out of self and understand the psychological problem of the supervisor, which is Type A personality.
Due to the different social level between the manager and the employee, the issues can be solved through peer mediators. For example, another manager can mediate the situation where they identify ways in which the supervisor can set a time-bound plan that is manageable. This would empower the employee to attain more and increase their productivity through motivation. The mediator, in this case, can follow a conflict resolution worksheet where both conflicting parties can complete the sheet. Wilmot et al. (2007) explain that after filing a conflict resolution worksheet the mediator should apply the information to help the two parties form an acceptable solution.
Generally, the situation can be resolved by first identifying the source of conflict where the person-in-charge collects all related information. The information can be collected through a question like; how did the incident begin? The information should be collected from the two parties, which will help the mediator see the issue from the two sides. This should be followed by looking beyond the incident where Wimot et al. (2007) explain that mediators should understand the perspective of the situation that resulted in the conflict.
The third step is to request solutions after understanding the different perspectives of the parties. This can be attained by soliciting ideas like, how can we make the situation better. The fourth step is to identify the solution that the two parties identify. As a mediator, this can be attained through active listening of both parties. In this stage, the mediator should identify all the merits of provided ideas, which should not be grounded on the perspective of the individuals but rather on its advantage to the company. The last step is for the two parties to come into an agreement where they both understand and agree to one alternative specified in step 4. In collaboration with the two, they should collaboratively formulate the actions to follow.
Baack, D. (2017). Organizational behavior (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://ashford.content.edu
Folger, J., Poole, M. S., & Stutman, R. K. (2017). Working through conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations. Routledge.
Gilley, A., Godek, M., & Gilley, J. W. (2009). Change, resistance, and the organizational immune system. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 74(4), 4.
Judkins, P. (2012). Making vision into power: Power struggles and personality clashes in British radar, 1935–1941. The International Journal for the History of Engineering & Technology, 82(1), 93-124.
Spaho, K. (2013). Organizational communication and conflict management. Management-Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, 18(1), 103-118.Wilmot, W., Hocker, J., Arthur, J., Petty, J. W., Martocchio, J. J., Cheeseman, H. R., … & Rosania, R. J. (2007). Interpersonal Conflict 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
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