In an organization, occurrence of conflicts between workers or between workers and the management is inevitable, because of the diverse nature of worker’s personalities, values, needs, aspirations, and opinions. Although most individuals may associate conflicts with negative effects, if well handled conflicts can help to expose and solve the numerous underlying managerial problems within an organization. For example, in organizations where managers use an autocratic leadership style, employees rarely have an opportunity of voicing their grievances.
In this like a scenario, the common way used by most employees to get attention from the management, is by organizing numerous strikes and work unrests. Although in some of these like scenarios conflicts can be very detrimental to the wellbeing of an organization, if managements can handle conflicts, which arise from this like scenarios by addressing their underlying causes, this can be a very helpful tool for solving the numerous managerial weaknesses that may be in an organization. Considering this, it is the work of a management team to create a healthy environment that minimizes chances of conflicts arising or to put up measures that can enable workers within an organization to solve conflicts whenever they arise (Hotepo, Asokere, Abdul-Azeez, & Ajemunigbohum, 2010, pp.
1-2). For management teams to find workable and viable solutions to conflicts, it is important for such teams to consider the underlying causes of conflicts, the behavior of the involved groups or individuals, and the nature of effects, which may result from any solution taken. It is important for individuals to note that, if not well handled, because of the stress associated with conflicts, some solutions offered to certain conflicts may cause more damage or can lead to more negative effects, which may impair the smooth running of an organization. Therefore, considering the significance of a peaceful working environment to an organization, it is important for managers to ascertain all factors surrounding a conflict and formulate viable and long lasting solutions to any conflicting issues within an organization (Hotepo, Asokere, Abdul-Azeez, & Ajemunigbohum, 2010, pp. 1-3).
Managing Conflicts in Organizations
Lack of proper conflict managing techniques can be very detrimental to the wellbeing of an organization, because of the numerous unrests associated with workplaces full of conflicts. Although conflicts can act as tools of discovering the underlying organizational problems, some conflicts are very de-motivating, as most of them cause procrastination and resentment to workers, more so the victims. In addition, , lack of adequate measures of dealing with conflicts right from the time they occur can contribute to the shutdown of a communication channel; hence, causing many negative effects, for example workers’ boycotts, which can affect greatly an organization’s productivity. It is so hard for workers to cooperate in achieving a common organizational goal when they have so many disagreements amongst themselves or with managements.
Further, it is important for managers to note that, because of fear of intimidation and prejudice, most workers rarely voice their grievances. Considering this, it is important for managers to note that, lack of an external signs of a conflict does not mean that an organization does not have wrangles or conflicts. Therefore, it is the duty of the manager to study employees’ behaviors in order to get insights of any hidden problems. If managers do not an initiative to discover any underlying conflict, which unless dealt with in their early stages can increase chances of bad conflicts occurring, chances of such organizations recovering from some conflicts are low, because of the nature of damages associated with such conflicts. For example, consider of a case where managers oppress junior workers or a case where old workers are mistreating new workers. In this like a scenario, likelihoods of junior workers complaining to the management are low, because they may fear putting their job security at stake. Hence, if this like a practice continues for along time, chances of rebellions from these junior workers occurring later on are high, as there may be a communication breakdown between junior workers and the management (Ackroyd, (n.d), pp.
6-13). It is of great significance for managers to note that, the process of noting and solving conflicts can be a very daunting exercise if managers do not take precaution in dealing with the numerous types of conflicts that may arise in workplaces. In addition, managers should note that, it is almost impossible to resolve a conflict completely, because of the numerous differences in people’s value systems, goals, ways of thinking, and opinions. Hence, any conflict solving initiative should aim to manage a conflict, with an aim of reducing the destructive effects of a conflict. The Process of managing a conflict begins with ascertaining the presence of a conflict and parties involved. Identifying the parties involved in a conflict, defines the base of formulating credible strategies of approaching the conflict (Hotepo, Asokere, Abdul-Azeez, & Ajemunigbohum, 2010, pp. 2-5).
For example, in a conflict that involves supervisors and employees or the management and junior employees, the conciliator must take great precaution to make sure no party feels intimidated, because this conflict involves two different ranks of employees. Managers can alleviate chances of this like a scenario arising by establishing in their organizations regular channels of open communication and meetings, for purposes of detecting any sings of wars or disagreements between different teams. In cases where there is some from of a communication breakdown in an organization, it is very hard for a manager to know exactly what is going on, as most employees have a tendency of keeping quite, until that time the conflict is uncontrollable. Therefore, ensuring there is enough, free, and open communication channels, is one of the primary ways of ascertaining the presence of a conflicting issue in an organization, as this one of the primary means of getting feedback from employees. After ascertaining the involved group, then the conciliator should endevor to discover the underlying causes of conflicts, before formulating any strategy of dealing with the conflicts.
Sources of Conflicts in an Organization
For managers to handle conflicts or provide long lasting solutions to any conflicting issue, it is of necessity for them to try and uncover the underlying causes of any conflict. Primary causes of conflicts in organizations include general behavioral differences and conduct issues, lack of adequate communication channels of voicing problems, ineffective organizational systems and unpredictable policies, incompatibility in goals among different organs of an organization, and scarcity of resources. In addition, most work places characterized by inconsistencies in communication of policies, more so when an organization wants to introduce new technologies and operational policies are prone to conflicts.
On the other hand, scarcity of resources can cause unwanted competition, anxiety, and heightened emotionality; hence, leading to conflict of interests. This like scenarios occurs mostly in working environments characterized by poor management policies and setting of incompatible goals, which mismatch with worker’s abilities (Ikeda, Veludo-de-Olivesa & Campor, 2005, pp. 23-24). In addition to the above causes, conflicts occur in an organization with poor interpersonal and unethical communication behaviors, because this will create unhealthy relationships between workers and management. Therefore, understanding of the root causes of a conflict provides a basis of formulating long lasting solutions to a conflict, because of the diverse nature of factors that may cause conflict.
As research studies show, in formulating solutions to conflicts, most managers tend to overlook the significance of taking into consideration the root causes of conflicts such as numerous flaws in an organization’s management departments or structures. For example, consider of a case where the human resource (HRM) department has failed to segregate roles properly among workers. In this like a scenario, likelihoods of conflicts of interest among workers arising are high. Although managers may be aware of this, in formulating solutions to this like problem, most managers will tend to ignore the root cause of this conflict, because if the problem is flaws in their managerial policies, then their competence will be questioned.
Strategies of Managing Conflicts
To handle any conflicts appropriately, it is important for conciliators to always remember that, either of the parties can be right or wrong or none of them is right or wrong. Most organizational conflicts result because of the ideological differences between employees; hence the need of dealing with the conflict in a straight forward, professional, and recommended manner. One primary method of ensuring any solution methodology adopted succeeds is to create productive relationships between the worrying parties, and establishing an open communication channel. Such channels should be there to make the worrying parties feel free to express their views and share their problems.
Such should be case primarily because, the main agenda of any conflict management initiative should be to gain cooperation from all parties involved in a fight, improving work output, encouraging cooperation and teamwork, enhance creativity, and provide lasting solutions to any conflicting issue. To achieve this managers have to acquaint themselves with the relationship problem, by assembling the concerned parties. It is of significance for one to avoid defining the nature of relationship that may exist between the worrying parties as this may make the conciliator to develop a judgmental attitude that may jeopardize the reconciliation process (Hotepo, Asokere, Abdul-Azeez, & Ajemunigbohum, 2010, pp. 3-6). Once the worrying parties have defined their nature of relationship, the conciliator should take an initiative of defining to them their problem factually.
For example, if the conflict is between employees and supervisors, the conciliator must endeavor to avoid any emotional judgment before worrying parties and state the root cause of their problem. Assume employees are complaining that supervisors are mistreating them because they are of higher rank than them. In most cases this is a perception held by employees hence, it is important to listen careful and understand the conflict’s premises before dealing with like a case. After understanding the premises of the conflict, the second step should be to encourage the worrying parties to consider the nature of benefits that they can get by maintaining a positive relationship between themselves. Encouraging the worrying parties to consider the benefits of a positive relationship between themselves can act as motivating factor for reconciliation, because it gives the conflict a positive outlook. After all this, the conciliator can now define strategies of solving the conflict by making these groups to realize the impacts of their actions to the company and themselves.
It is of necessity for individuals to note that, depending on the prevailing premises of a conflict, reconciling fighting parties can be a very tedious and almost impossible process, but if managers ca take careful precautions ,then the process can be simple (pp. 6-8).
Important Communication and Managerial Concepts in Managing Conflicts
The overall task of managing conflicts should not be done only during times of wars between different parties of an organization. This task should be a continuous process, as this will help to reduce the effects of any standoff between different groups of employees.
To make this happen communication should be the main element of any conflict managing strategy. Considering this, managers or conciliators should avoid any form of destructive confrontation that can affect the conflict management process or endevor. An organization through its managerial organs can achieve this by creating a good working environment whose main mandate should be to reduce chances of confrontations occurring between different ranks of employees, as result of their differing personalities. For example, depending on the duties of employees, some duties may be less motivating than other; however, because all departments of an organization depend on one another, managers must adopt managerial strategies that will encourage all workers. This is one of the primary methodologies of eliminating any probability of some cohort of workers feeling inadequate or inferior in their duties. To achieve these managers should treat all employees equally and with the required integrity, failure of which can greatly jeopardize the success of their managerial duties (Higgerson, 1996, pp. 2-12). On the other hand, to minimize wars between workers, it is important fro managers to define clearly to workers policies that define their duty, and the significance of respect, cooperation, and appreciation of the individual differences for the wellbeing of an organization.
Managers should not expect employees to set their working principles and standards of achievement, because likelihoods of such principles being biased are high. In addition to establishing good communication protocols, it is of significance for managers to eliminate any biases that may occur departmentally; favoritism being one of the primary causes of organizational conflicts. Avoidance of favoritism should go hand in hand with respect of workers privacy, although at all time managers should keep an open eye on employees for purposes of deducing instances of conflicts between employees. Practically, because is very hard for managers to monitor every worker for purposes of deducing instances of war, an organization should have a communication mechanisms of collecting information from employees, for example, suggestion boxes. Upon receiving such feedbacks, it is important for managers to take an initiative to investigate any grievances, as this will help to offer emerging problem solutions before they result into destructive conflicts (Higgerson, 1996, pp.11-21).
In conclusion, the ability of managers to provide credible solutions in the workplaces is very important for the survival of any organization. Therefore, regardless of a leader’s rank, it is very important for all leaders to have the required problem conflict solving, because conflicts can be very costly to a company if they escalate to uncontrollable levels. Regardless of the magnitude of any conflict, managers should not ignore giving amicable solutions to any conflicting issue, because it is these small conflicts that result into unsolvable conflicts, due to increased resentment that may result between the worrying parties. In addition, at all times managers should encourage their workers to be accommodative, embrace the spirit of brotherhood, follow all the rules, and avoid issues, which may cause disagreements between them. For managements to achieve this, they must define clearly the rules of operation, establish good communication channels and protocols of reporting problems within an organization, and treat and remunerate all employees fairly.
Ackroyd, S. (n.d).
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M., & Campomar, M. C. (2005). Organizational Conflicts Perceived by marketing executives. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 10 (1), 22-28.
Retrieved November 3, 2010, from