The concept of Conflict in Workplace
Many authors have defined workplace conflict in many different ways. Workplace conflict can be defined as that act of contention or discontentment in which either employers of labor or the employees utilize so as to exert excess pressure against one another on an attempt of getting their demands (Atzeni, 2010). Workplace conflict is described as disputes that occur at the time when goals, interests as well as values of many different individuals as well as groups are not compatible with one another in the organization. In the context of relationships of employment, workplace conflicts may be regarded as inevitable clashes of interests as well as disputes that result and those vary in intensity in the active actors in the organization. Therefore, when common values within an organization are absent, conflict must occur.
Workplace causative factors
Research has provided various factors that lead to conflicts in an organization. These factors include the lack of resources, competition, lacking cooperation, expectations that are different, communication problems as well as interdependence (Chan, 2012). Other factors identified to cause workplace conflicts include terms of employment that are unacceptable, managers and workers poor human relations, lack of employee consultation before decision making, anti-union management posture as well as lacking effective and efficient mechanism to be used in preventing conflicts. Another study done in Philippine in the banking industry identifies various factors that cause workplace conflict. The factors identified include perceptions, communication failures, values as well as cultural problems. Therefore, most workplace conflicts usually have got both economic as well as goal incompatibility orientation inside the workplace.
Classifying workplace conflict
Workplace conflict can be classified into two very broad types. These include formal and informal workplace conflicts (Danielsson, Bodin, Wulff, & Theorell, 2015). Informal workplace conflict is not based on systematic problems of the organization. These conflicts usually come from a grievance source and it is naturally expressive as a whole. Due to this, underlying sources can’t be seen openly. They can however be inferred by forms of protests that are unconscious, unruly behaviors, sabotage as well as poor working attitudes of employees in the organization. If this situation becomes sufficiently widespread, then it may bring a significant effect on job description focus of the employees, the turnover as well as prosperity of the organization. Formal workplace conflict is on the other hand referred to expression of conflict that is organized and articulated via trade union or representatives of other workers. This conflict type is very much visible because often, it is a strategy that is conscious or a calculated attempt aimed at obtaining change in the employment relationship. In summation, there are 2 sides of workplace conflicts be it informal or formal. One side explains that workplace conflict is unhealthy and destructive. The other side explains that workplace conflict is healthy and productive (Deyoe, & Fox, 2012). However, these two conflict sides are neither good nor bad because in work relations there must be disagreements as well as dissatisfactions. This allows making of adjustments so as to make an improvement of the total performance of the workplace.
Managing workplace conflict
Conflict management usually involves making designs of strategies that are effective so as to minimize dysfunctions of conflicts. This enhances constructive functions so as to optimize learning as well as the effectiveness in the organization. This means that to manage conflicts doesn’t necessarily need termination or avoidance but decreasing the odds in non-productive escalation (Forsyth, 2012). As such, managing conflicts is the means through which people and organizations handle disputes and grievances in an attempt of looking for middle way alternatives of increasing resolution, working towards consensus as well as offering genuine commitments to making decisions. In organizations, conflict is something that is inevitable. Management of conflict usually determines whether there will be generation of a negative or positive effect on the performance of the organization. The timely recognitions as well as the immediate explications of tension that is underlying before the issues of conflict go out of hand is germane in effectual management of conflicts in workplace. Consequently, the orientation of conflict management is a process that is highly obstructive and that may be implemented in various ways that are diverse. There is a four-way process that is used to achieve efficacious as well as objective conflict decisions in the workplace. This approach is integrated and it is usually employed so as to encourage management and hence meet the needs of all stakeholders in resolving the conflict (Giebels, & Yang, 2009).
This method of conflict management is likely to lead to creation of results that are better as well as more commitment in people than teams by the use of non-integrative management of conflicts. The integrative approach usually makes the understanding of conflict problems broad and also enlarges the resolution. In this same approach, the strategy of collective bargaining is suggested as the one that manages union management conflicts in an organization. Internationally, the same approach is acclaimed as legal instrument through which management as well as the worker usually settles their conflicts that arise from contracts of employment. In the present, faster rates used in adopting strategies of collective bargaining are being encouraged in countries particularly Nigeria through trade union amendment act and through using this machinery positively in resolving conflicts by some of the multinational firms within the country (Gilin Oore, Leiter, & LeBlanc, 2015).
In practice, the collaborative approach of conflict management usually involve negotiations between the management and the union in an attempt to meet the demands , discussion, presentation of counter demands as well as bluffing and threatening everyone in an aim of reaching collective agreement. Another research has also come up with some approaches that are used in conflict management. These include avoidance, competition, accommodation, compromise as well as collaboration. The strategy of avoidance is referred to as conflict avoidance. The strategy of accommodation holds the belief that there is no sacrifice amount that is too much to give a space of peace to reign. This technique is palliative and involves appeasement as well as capitulation. Competition strategy usually involve the survival for the fittest as well as the the win or lose method and without holding other parties into consideration. The compromise strategy involves parties that are willing in giving up something so as to settle the problem that brings conflict. The collaboration approach is a win-win strategy in which the parties involved in the conflict are always prepared, ready and willing to fully satisfy the demands of each other (Gupta, Boyd, & Kuzmits, 2011). All these approaches majorly depend on the organizational structure except the collaborative strategy that is seen in behaviors which are both assertive and cooperative. The approaches that depend on organizational structure usually provide solutions that are short term.
Effect of conflict on performance
In most cases, people view conflicts in an organization as a force that is negative and that is operating against a successful common goals or a group completion. Conflict can therefore make a creation of a very negative impact in groups. However, conflict can also have positive impact and this depends on nature of this conflict. Positive impacts of conflicts include improvement of decision’s quality, stimulation of involvement in developing group cohesion and discussions (Jameson, Bodtker, A. & Linker, 2010). Furthermore, conflict also has the potential of destructing in groups and this happens especially when the individual members’ energy is consumed instead of using the same energy to concentrate on other activities that are productive in the organization. However, conflicts may lead to interfering with the group process and hence lead to creation of interpersonal hostility that is too much such that the group members become unable and unwilling to teamwork so as to realize the objectives of the organization. Conflicts that are not resolved usually tend to grow bigger and bigger. The more the conflict grows bigger, the higher the chances of accumulating more problems (Katz, & Flynn, 2013). Some problems that arise because of conflict include poor communication, lacking cooperation, contagious and wasted conflict.
Concerns involving mental health
In an organization, conflict may make members to be frustrated especially when they have a feeling that there is no solution that is seen and also when they have a feeling that the opinions they raise are not recognized by other members in the group. Due to this, the members are stressed up and this has a great impact on their professional lives as well as their personal lives. Members of the organization may acquire sleeping problems, headaches, overeating or even loss of appetite, and others become unapproachable (Northam, 2009). In some cases, members of the organization may avoid and skip meetings so as to avoid experiencing stress as well as symptoms that are stress-related.
Organizational conflict leads to decreased productivity. An organization may spend a lot of time to deal with conflict. This makes the members to change their focus on the core objectives and goals that they have a task in achieving. Conflict makes the members to have less focus on the project that is at hand and much gossip on conflict and even the frustrations (Saundry, Latreille, Dickens, Irvine, Teague, Urwin, & Wibberley, 2014). Due to this, an organization may lose donors, money and even the accessing resources that are essential.
Members of the organization who are facing a lot of frustrations due to increased conflict levels in the organization may make a decision of terminating their membership. This is very detrimental especially when the members are committee heads or are forming part of executive board. When these members begin leaving the organization, new members have to be recruited and acting members of the board also anointed. Where the case is extreme such that many members have left or even stepping down of executive board, the organization risk being dissolved (Singleton, Toombs, Taneja, Larkin, & Pryor, 2011).
Escalation of conflict with lack of mediation leads to situations that are intense rising between the members of the organization. Violence that arises among the members usually result in legal problems in the members and also the organization (Sonnentag, Unger, & Nägel, 2013).
Some members of the organization usually see conflict as a chance aimed at finding solutions that are creative so as to get solutions to problems that may arise. Conflict can be a tool of inspiring members to have brainstorming of ideas and at the same time examine problems that may arise from different perspectives. Management of conflict usually leads to improvement of organizational performance as well as effectiveness. Effective and efficient conflict management refers to a concept in which an organization achieves objectives that are planned through harnessing the efforts of individuals as well as groups. Studies have shown that the organizational performance as well as internal performance results of a team generally is associated with effective operation or efficient operations as well as other measures from the external environment (Strauss, & Sawyerr, 2009).
Relationship conflict influence on performance can depend on tasks interdependence. Research shows that conflict usually arise in groups due to freedom scarcity, resources as well as position. People who always value independence usually resist interdependence and somehow conformity in a group. Recognitions and rewards are perceived as being insufficient and distributed improperly. Members lean on competing with each other in these prizes. More often, conduction of meetings is in a win-lose climate rather than problem solving. Positive conflict becomes very useful when it comes to group deliberations. Most groups usually look for much information so as to make resolutions when conflicts emerge. However, when there are disagreements, an investigation that is thorough should be conducted.
The decisions made by the group are based on more information that is added and that probably was obtained from the conflict. Disagreements in a conflict usually indicate the 2 parties that are involved in discussion. However, the approach of workplace conflict as a chance of improving operations is a solution that is productive. Different conflicts usually relate to employee performance in either positive outcomes or negative outcomes (Teague, & Roche, 2012). Management makes decisions that are rational since they are aware that conflicts are very much important and they have significant effects on the performance of employees. For instance, in the banking sector today, it is a competition era. All the banks are working towards improving their products and services by giving a lot of importance to customers.
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