Discuss the positive and negative aspects of workplace conflict, and the methods for resolving workplace conflict.
Webster’s dictionary defines conflict as a serious disagreement between two or more parties over their ideas or interests. At workplace settings conflict is in no way inevitable as work involves different categories of people with varying ideas willing to push for their enhancement either at the workplace or in normal life. Disagreement at the workplace can arise between workers, workers and their supervisors, between supervisors or between the workplace internal fraternity and external stakeholders. Some of the external stakeholders include the suppliers, customers or other related agencies (Collins, & O'Rourke, 2009). Ability to manage these conflict at work is a sign of high management competency and all organizational managers should learn and practice conflict management skills. Examples of conflicts at work include discrimination related issues, performance discrepancy, leadership issues, conflict with customers among others. Conflict at the workplace can enhance both positive and negative effects that ray an impact in production. There are various strategic methods of workplace conflict resolution and some include avoiding, collaborating, negotiating, accommodating, compromising, confrontation among many others (Cloke & Goldsmit, 2011).
These are the benefits of increased conflicts at the workplace. They include the following;
Promotes personal growth. When one is faced with a conflicting issue at work, he or she is able to overcome the challenge and work on resolving together with others in support. Coming up with an idea to resolve an issue enhances personal growth important for increased productivity at workplace.
Enhances innovations. In case of objective conflicts between the employees and other stakeholders, creativity is the only weapon to solve the issue. Innovative suggestions on how to settle the issues between the workers and the stakeholders are of great importance. Example, the employee creates a shortcut to solving a long-term issue making it appear as a short-term one.
Enhances accountability. Conflict puts everyone at the workplace on his or her toes, that is, every individual takes responsibility for his or her actions while at work. This is important as everyone is concerned with what will benefit him and the organization other than what the other person is going to benefit from (Scott, et al, 2010).
Promotes mutual understanding. While coming together to understand the cause of conflict at the workplace and also get to come up with a solution, the environment enhanced at the moment ensures there is an understanding among the members. Different mindsets, cultures and different interpersonal skills are some of the factors enhancing conflict and coming together may enhance an understanding of the same which is an important aspect at the workplace.
Promotes positive social change. As people from different ethnic backgrounds come together they enhance enculturation which is an aspect of positive social change. Different cultures unfold as people are willing to learn and respect other cultures hence positive development at the workplace.
These are the losses or adverse cost of conflict at workplace environment. Some include;
Reduced productivity. Increased stress among the workers as well as poor relations results to reduced productivity at workplace. This is because a lot of time is taken to thinking what can be done to resolve the conflict at hand and in some cases how to enforce the conflicting issue for one side to win.
Lack of cohesion and integration. During conflicts at the workplace, some people tend to take sides to support others leaving others on their own. This is mostly done on the basis of what is the benefit or loss of the idea brought forward.
Poor decision-making strategies. Sometimes the decision made when there are conflicting parties at the workplace, decisions made may be influenced leading to wrong decisions. Example, where conflicts are between a subordinate and a senior employee, the subordinate is likely to make an influenced decision and vice versa (Poitras & Raines, 2013).
Wastage of workplace resources. In some cases, conflicts result to physical fights. This is where the conflicting parties take it to a stage where they cannot settle their issue without fighting. Use of physical objects may result in destruction.
Increased wastage of productive time. Time is taken to talk about the conflicting issue and finding means on how to solve it in most cases more than what is taken to productively work at the workplace at that moment or day. In similar cases, conflict issues at the workplace can arise in so many instances resulting in a lot of time wastage at the workplace.
Methods for solving workplace conflict
These are measures or strategies enhanced to manage conflicts at the workplace. They include;
Accommodating. This is a strategy of conflict resolution at the workplace where the opposing side is given what it wants. This strategy is mainly used where one party is willing to enhance peace by taking the issue as a minor case (Baker & McKenzi, 2010).
Collaborating. This strategy works by bringing together different ideas by different people. The main goal is to come up with a solution acceptable to all involved parties or individuals. Example, an employer should collaborate with the senior and junior employees while coming up with rules and policies to enhance success.
Avoiding. It’s a method of conflict resolution where one of the conflicting parties may decide to avoid the conflicting issue. By delaying or keeping quiet about the issue the person hopes the issue will be settled gracefully. This is important in the workplace as it does not cause attention or destruction (Cropanzano & Ambrose, 2015)).
Negotiating. This is a method of conflict resolution that enhances the two conflicting parties to come to an agreement. Both parties agree the way forward to solving their issue is to settle on a common goal or interest. This is important in the workplace to help solve an issue affecting both sides to have a common target (Anyanwu, 2009).
Compromising. This method calls for all the conflicting sides to give up on their interests and come up with new ones that fit both of them. Since they cannot agree on their own interests they come up with one that is acceptable to help solve their issue. This is important as it helps in saving productive time at the workplace (Lipsky, 2016).
In most cases, situations with more than one person, disagreement arise and what matters is how they are managed. Conflicts at workplaces are very healthy as they benefit both the stakeholders as well as the organization involved. In cases of negative effects at the workplace, there various useful methods that are useful for resolutions. Depending on the conflicting parties, the methods help in coming up with a solution to the conflicting issue. It’s important for both small business managers and organization managers to learn skills on business conflict management strategies to help solve conflicts while still tender before they intensify beyond repair.
Anyanwu, C. N. (2009). Creative strategies for conflict management & community building. Bloomington, IN: Author House.
Baker & McKenzie., CCH Australia Limited, & Macquarie University. (2010). Australian master human resources guide. North Ryde, N.S.W: CCH Australia.
Cloke, K., & Goldsmith, J. (2011). Resolving conflicts at work: Ten strategies for everyone on the job. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Collins, S. D., & O'Rourke, J. S. (2009). Managing conflict and workplace relationships. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Cropanzano, R., & Ambrose, M. L. (2015). The Oxford handbook of justice in the workplace.
Lipsky, D. B. (2016). Managing and resolving workplace conflict: Volume 22. Place of publication not identified: Emerald Group Publishing
Poitras, J., & Raines, S. (2013). Expert mediators: Overcoming mediation challenges in workplace, family, and community conflicts. Lanham, Md: Jason Aronson.
Scott, V., & Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties (Everett, Wash.),. (2010). Conflict resolution at work for dummies.