CONFLICT MANAGEMENT BRIEFING REPORT
Conflict Management Briefing Report
The paper presents a case that concerns conflict and conflict management. The purpose of the paper is to be able to know relevant topics about conflict that would be helpful in preparing the company, or developing an effective conflict resolution plan for the company. In the report, the conflict was defined based on a particular literature. Furthermore, the levels of conflicts and the types of conflicts in the organizational setting were enumerated and defined. Then, different types of conflict resolutions or important factors to consider when it comes to managing conflict were also identified. They include brief resolutions to the types of conflict, as well as some negotiation strategies and a discussion on communication.
This paper reports valid and relevant literatures regarding conflict management. The purpose of the paper is to be able to determine relevant topics about conflict that would be helpful in developing an effective conflict resolution plan for the company. Conflict resolution is important because of the fact that conflict is unavoidable. Conflict is inevitable in every organization because the business environment, both external and internal, experience changes constantly. For instance, the rapid development of technology makes other approaches obsolete, as more and more companies accept the change, affecting the standards in business processes. When business processes are affected and an organization is forced to change its ways, the problem with human factors would then take place. Staff and employees are not passive individuals, but rather show reactions to such changes. Change affects many working processes that might have a direct or indirect impact on an employee. The impact might affect the way they work or might determine their attitude in adapting with the changes that took place. Furthermore, most likely there will also be problems on the capabilities of the employees to adapt with the change. For example, the implementation of new information systems or any technology requires the knowledge of the employees to operate. If the employees are unfamiliar or lack the trainings needed, the pace of change will slow and implementation would most likely fail.
These are just some of the factors that should be considered from organizational change. Other human factors can also be considered as roots of conflict such as diversity, because employees have differing values and experience differing situations (, 2001). Through interaction, such characteristics are responsible for the development of tension among employees (2001). Changes intensify this reality as employees are obliged to cope with them. Like the others, coping styles differ, making the need for a good management and leadership more essential. However, it can also be said that change could root from conflict. Proper management of conflict fosters understanding and the appreciation of difference (, 2001). Thus, conflict and change should be managed effectively, instead of being eliminated or halted.
Definition of Conflict
Conflict simply means lack of agreement in terms of beliefs, practices and in other human activities. It has different levels, which are: intrapersonal or intrapsychic conflict; interpersonal conflict; intragroup conflict; and intergroup conflict (, 1999).
Levels of Conflict
The four types of conflict are: intrapersonal conflict; interpersonal conflict; intragroup conflict; and intergroup conflict.
Intrapersonal or intrapsychic conflict means conflict occurs within an individual (, 1999). Of course, this is understandable because interpersonal communication means communicating to one’s self. Roots of conflict in this level can be ideas, thoughts, emotions, values, predispositions or drives (1999). The person basically reflects in those roots and creates conflict with how he or she will react. Conflict within self is closely related to psychological and psychiatric field because it is linked with cognitive theories, behavior change theories, motivation theories, etc. (, 1999).
Interpersonal conflict, on the other hand, is the second major level of conflict, which means conflict between two or more individual people (1999). In other definition, it is the interaction between persons expressing opposing interests, views, or opinions (, 1990).
Interpersonal conflict is a
process that has three main stages (1990). The first stage of interpersonal
conflict is when the person is faced
with a choice between two or more incompatible options or goals. The conflict manifests in the second stage when interaction reveals that the two persons involved in the process want different things, but they think that these differences can be resolved (, 1990). Then in the third stage, the parties perceive that there is no mutually acceptable outcome and unwanted sacrifices must be made for resolving their differences (1990). Personal interests come first in the third stage. There are winners and losers and exercises of power likely dominate the process (, 1990).
Interpersonal conflict has different levels of its own. The different levels of interpersonal conflict include: behavioral conflicts; normative conflicts; and personal conflicts (1990). (1990) mentioned these levels for intimate conflicts, but basically, they can be applied to interpersonal conflicts in general. Behavioral conflicts include conflict over specific behaviors, such as different preferences for management style, leadership, team building, recreational activities, and doing tasks and jobs. Normative conflicts involve conflicts over the unique norms and rules of the relationship. Finally, personal conflicts concern a person’s characteristics, dispositions, and attitudes including life values, selfishness, inconsiderateness, and human relations (, 1990).
Intragroup conflict takes place within a small group, basically on teams and committee members within a particular organization. In this level, “conflict is analyzed as it affects the ability of the group to resolve disputes and continue to achieve its goals effectively” (, 1999, p.16).
Then, intragroup conflict takes place within a small group, basically on teams and committee members within a particular organization. In this level, “conflict is analyzed as it affects the ability of the group to resolve disputes and continue to achieve its goals effectively” (, 1999, p.16).
Finally, intergroup conflict is a level of conflict that involves large number of people - for instance, conflict that takes place between unions and management, warring nations, feuding families, or community action groups and government authorities (, 1999, p.16). Conflicts can occur within groups and between groups simultaneously (, 1999, p.16).
Types of Conflict
In the organizational setting, the types of conflict are: C-type conflict; and A-type conflict.
C-type conflict means that employees or members of a particular team “focus on substantive, issue-related differences of opinion that tend to improve team effectiveness”, 1995, p.22). In this type of conflict, different ideas are being taken into consideration through effective communication. (1997) stated: “It allows members to contribute openly and honestly to the team’s decision-making process while maintaining acceptance by team members and creating greater commitment” (pp.90-91).
On the other hand, A-type conflict decreases the effectiveness of the group by allowing personal feelings or someone’s own agenda to deter the members from the team’s objective (, 1997). This type of attitude can basically prevent creativity as ideas of change are barred with personal feelings and agenda. further stated: “Creativity is limited by the members’ reduced ability to contribute input due to the increasing hostility, anger and the elimination of trust” (p.91).
(1995) provided certain steps on how to manage this type of conflict effectively. They stated the effectiveness of meetings in resolving both types of conflicts. The first strategy they suggest is to disseminate a full agenda early. The Chief Executive should develop a plan to explain the full agenda of the meeting clearly to the GM and staff. This should be followed by stating the philosophy of the agenda clearly and providing relevant and convincing back-up along it. The Chief Executive should also consider the right environment for the meeting. Also, behavioral strategies should be observed in the meeting to prevent the increase of A-type conflicts. Another approach is keeping a sense to the where the discussion is going. The discussion should also be channeled from A-type conflict to C-type conflict. Finally, the leader should support the team and should be proactive and reactive.
(1999) suggested other integrative sub-strategy in direct negotiation other than presenting the agenda through meeting. The chief should plan the opening moves in the negotiation and should be willing to bargain and discover new options. An emergent agreement strategy can also be used where certain requests of the GM will be considered in order for him to accept the implementation fully (, 1999). On the other hand, if all else fails, one option is to look for another GM who is more comfortable with changes and is willing to improve.
Negotiation strategies can also be the key in managing conflicts. Types of negotiation or bargaining strategies include: soft bargaining strategy; hard bargaining strategy; tit-for-tat bargaining strategy; and principled bargaining strategy (, 1993). Soft bargainers attempts to prevail by being agreeable. Hard bargainers are rigid and agree only on their own argument. On the other hand, tit-for-tats uses motivation of reward and punishment for negotiation. Finally, principled bargainers separate people from the problem, focus on interests, generate options for mutual gains, and use objective standards (, 1993).
In terms of strategies to counter hard bargainers, (1991) suggested negotiation jujitsu. Negotiation jujitsu means not fighting strength with strength but rather, their force should be channeled into exploring interests, options for mutual gain and looking for independent standards. It means that positions of the opposing side should not be attacked but should be used against them by looking into options that would make them accept the proposal without affecting their position. Furthermore, if the person is a hard bargainer, the problem should be attacked instead of the person. When the problem is the one attacked, interests for mutual gain can be developed which could lead to positive results.
Communication is also important. Communicators are in different types of relationship contexts. These are important to determine the right content and relationship message to be delivered. (1999) enumerated the types of relationship contexts, and they are: acquaintanceship, friendship, romantic relationships, family relationships, and work relationships.
Communications are irreversible and once they are said, they can never be taken back. That is why critical thinking and good control of emotions are needed in communication (, 1999). (1999) stated that critical thinkers do not fall prey to emotional appeals because they examine evidence on which conclusions are based – if they are valid, if they have weaknesses, etc.
Finally, communication is personal because every word the communicator says reflects his attitude and behaviors, emotions or beliefs. For instance, emotions such as anger, happiness, surprise, fear, and sadness can affect the message that sender will deliver to the receiver (, 1999). Communication should be enhanced in every company to have better results in resolving conflicts.
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