Strategies of Conflict Management

One can employ numerous conflict management strategies in times of conflict. In such situations, every individual has a different approach for conflict resolution.

Most, if not all, have a specific habitual approach they tend to use.

In order to conclude the conflict on a positive note, one must adapt the conflict management strategies that yields the most positive outcome; and not the one that comes to them naturally.

As an effective leader you must keep in mind which conflict management style is appropriate to resolve a specific conflict.

Any situation where a conflict arises, there is always more than one party involved. Conflict can arise for a number of reasons, ranging from power imbalance to divergent goals and philosophical differences.

If conflicts are poorly managed or left unmanaged, all together, it would result in a loss of productivity and in the breakdown of trust upon which success of most small organization hinges.

Cohesion of a select few is an absolute must, thus, decision makers need stay on the same page or it could mean the death of the business.

In this article, we are going to discuss the different conflict management strategies that work effectively in times of conflict.

Since most large businesses and corporations have a well oiled organization process and a structure that perfectly meshes with each other, yielding the desired result.

This article is targeted different situations where such conflicts are slow poison to the overall vision and mission of the business.

Conflict Management Strategies

An effective leader should be aware of conflict management strategies to develop leadership skills. Following are the Conflict management strategies decision makers and mediators must keep on their finger tips at all times to rapidly resolve an emerging conflict.

Understand the situation

Understanding the conflict is the main aspect of conflict management strategies. When a conflict arises in an organization you need to understand the nature of the conflict.

While settling the conflict makes ensure that you have investigated both sides of the issue.

The situation might be exactly as it is presented but might be not that’s why it is necessary to understand the situation and cause of the conflict.

If appropriate to the situation, agree the rules of the IBR Approach.

“Interest-Based Relational” (IBR) Approach is a theory about conflict resolution. This conflict resolution strategy respects individual differences while helping people avoid becoming too fix firmly in a fixed position.

Make sure that people understand that the conflict may be a mutual problem. With this understanding the conflict can be resolved through discussion and negotiation.

If a conflict arises, emphasize the fact that you are presenting your perception of the problem. Use active listening skills to ensure you hear and understand others’ positions and perceptions.

You should use soft and understandable language rather aggressive style.

Skills for the Interest–Based Relational (IBR) Approach to Conflict Resolution

Here are some essential skills that are necessary for Interest-Based Relational (IBR) Approach to conflict resolution.

Active and reflective Listening Skills

Restating: To state again or in another way. Retelling what you had stated in your main points in different words.

Paraphrasing: To express the meaning of (something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity.

It is a restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form for clearness.

Summarizing: To give a brief statement of the main points of (something). It can be defined as taking a lot of information and creating a concentrated version that covers the main points.

Conflict Management Strategies

 

Open and Closed Questions

Conflict Management Strategies

Acknowledge the problem

The conflict has to be acknowledged before it can be managed and resolved as it is an important step in resolving the conflict.

Normally people ignore the first signs of conflict as it seems unimportant.

As an effective leader you should take care of the situation. If you are concerned about the conflict, discuss it with other members.

When you recognize the conflict you should follow the following steps to solve the conflict.

Conflict Management Strategies

Discuss the impact

Arrange a meeting with the team to discuss the impact of the conflict on performance and results. As a team, discuss the impact the conflict is having on team dynamics and performance.

Discussion and sharing of ideas will make the issue more clear.

Agree to a cooperative process

Everyone involved must agree to cooperate in to resolve the conflict.

As an effective leader you should involve all the members and put them first. You can share your idea but give them preference. This will enhance their interest and participation level.

Accommodating

This strategy, as the name suggests, is adapting to what the opposing party wants; by accommodating their concerns and considering a solution that quickly resolves a conflict.

Normally used in times, when the party is simply concerned with the bottom line; one accommodates the other to keep the peace.

It’s obvious that this strategy is used when the issue in question is a minor one.

A fine example is the “Casual Friday”. Organizations that maintain a formal dress code institute casual Friday, considering it a low stake and as a means of keep their employees happy, while boosting their morale with little to no cost to the organization itself.

Avoiding

This strategy, which may work in some situations, is usually a bad idea in most cases. By avoiding resolution of a conflict; you are more likely to escalate it and might even push it to the point where it’s irreparable.

Those who avoid conflict actively come from a position of weakness; and hoping that the conflict might resolve itself, may just be wishful thinking in most cases.

However, in some rare cases, avoiding can be beneficial if the other party has a tendency of causing needless antics and tantrums.

This strategy, in such situations, saves time and prevents productivity loss. Alternatively, the management can take an intolerant stand point and consider a better and more productive replacement for those causing such issues.

Collaboration and Negotiation

Collaboration, just as the name suggests, is a group effort in which both parties sit down to discuss the issues that are in play, in order to find a middle ground where both will be happy.

Transformational Leaders focus on change, shared values and ideas and relationship building. They may have some deep knowledge about Collaborating.

Essentially a brainstorming session, collaborating allows the establishment of policies or work processes where the bottom line, which is conducting business, remains unhindered by trivial matters.

Negotiation is another important solution among other conflict management strategies.

With negotiation both sides may better understand the position and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all as well as the conflict may be resolved.

Win-win negotiation can be useful here to find a solution to some extent, satisfies everyone.

Using this conflict management strategy you need to remember the following three guiding principles:

Conflict Management Strategies

Discussion

Good communication is a key element of effective leadership skills. Often, conflict arises simply due to a lack of communication.

If you feel that the conflict in your organization is because of lack of communication, set up time for a discussion.

Provide an environment to employees to share their ideas and express themselves. Encourage the employees to discuss the problem and different ideas to solve it.

Be patient and take your time

The old adage, “Haste makes waste,” has more truth in it than we sometimes realize. Take time to evaluate all information.

A too-quick decision does more harm than good when it turns out to be the wrong decision and further alienating the individual involved.

Conflict in the workplace can be incredibly destructive to good teamwork. If it is not managed properly, real and legal differences between people can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in situations where co-operation breaks down.

In this situation the team’s mission can be in danger. This is particularly possible where the wrong approaches to conflict resolution are used.

Be Calm and give respect to employees

It’s very common that conflict arises in an organization. The main thing is how to handle this situation. As an effective leader you need to be calm rather than being aggressive.

You have to take care of self respect of employees. If you analyse the situation with flexible solutions it would be easy for you to resolve the conflict.

If you listen the views of employees carefully and explore facts, issues and possible solutions properly, conflict can often be resolved effectively.

Act immediately

Conflict in the workplace is a key reason for poor productivity and frustration. Conflict is a painful reality and only avoiding conflict is not best conflict management strategy.

Avoiding conflict is one of the main causes of claims being made against an organisation.

Conflicts do not go away that’s why it is necessary to learn different conflict management strategies.

Unresolved conflicts can remain for days, weeks or months. Unresolved workplace conflicts can quickly impact on workplace of an organisation as well as performance and workplace relationships can be affected quickly.

Workers often feel that they have no choice and no one has listened their point of views them.

They feel that no one is taking any action to resolve the conflict ad they want to seek the help of professionals.

When conflict takes hold, so many people can be quickly affected as conflict spreads and other employees become involved.

Provide Guidelines

In the world of business, the presence of conflict can be a serious issue that needs immediate attention. Conflict management is a key feature in leadership skills list.

Keeping in mind the effective leadership skills you can conduct a formal meeting between individuals. Before conducting a meeting, get both parties to agree to a few meeting guidelines.

Provide them a peaceful and relaxing environment and ask them to express themselves. Make them ready to understand each other’s perspective unemotionally.

Tell them clearly that they have to follow the meeting guideline and if they violate the guidelines the meeting will come to an end.

Keep the communication open

If workers in your organization are not working cooperatively and you feel a conflict has been raised among them, engage them in some conflict resolution to remedy this problem.

By suggesting an assortment of simple strategies, you can aid your workers in putting these periods of conflict behind them.

The basic purpose of conflict resolution is to resolve the matter. Communication skills are key element of conflict management strategies.

Communication skills make your leadership skills very strong. Good communication is very effective to resolve a conflict.

You should allow both parties to express their viewpoint as well as you should share your viewpoint.

Active listening is essential here, because to move on you need to really understand where the other person is coming from.

Try to provide a facilitative environment for the meeting that would be helpful to pinpoint the real cause of conflict.

Written Communication

Unmanaged or poorly managed conflicts generate a breakdown in trust and lost productivity. Written communication can be considered a very helpful conflict management strategy.

Written communication involves any type of message that makes use of the written word. Written communication is the most important and the most effective of any mode of business communication.

If an issue has arisen or one of the employees has a hot temper, written communication may be a more effective way to resolving conflict.

According to this strategy you can ask your employees to write a letter or email to each other, stating the problem.

They can carefully select their words by writing letters instead of talking face to face.

They can also make sure that the exchange doesn’t erupt into a yell match. Additionally, letter writing provides a means to document this communication easily.

Examples of written communications include email, letters and faxes.

Focus on the Problem Causing Conflict, Not the Individual

A leader should have the ability to treat all employees equally without any biasness. You should not consider anyone a “problematic individual” during their work experience.

Try to avoid your own pre-conceived attitudes about employees. You should not assume any reaction from employees.

If a conflict arises in an organization try to focus on identifying and resolving the conflict.

If you determine the individual is the problem, after careful and thorough analysis then focus on the individual at that point.

Meet with people involved in the conflict separately

Get a clear understanding of the issues before you try to intervene. People often have very different perceptions of what has occurred.

Understanding their perceptions will help you to focus on what is important to each person, and to find common ground.

Compromising

Of all the conflict management strategies, this particular strategy directly includes the parties involved in the conflict.

This is done in an effort to reach an acceptable, if not an agreeable solution. This strategy is most used, manages to prevail, and most of the time, is the best solution.

The likely paradigm of the relationship between the two parties is one where both hold the same amount of power in the conflict.

In terms of business, this session is conducted during contract negotiations, where both parties stand to lose something of considerable value.

Competing

This strategy is essentially a “zero-sum game” approach, where one side loses and the other wins. Conducted from a highly assertive standpoint; it is best used when there are limited conflicts; or in times of emergencies, when a conflict must be resolved in order to progress.

In general, businesses benefit from this strategy and are practically known to opt for it during crisis management decisions that are likely to generate ill will, such as layoffs or pay cuts.

A thorough research on the practical uses of conflict management strategies has found that most of us tend to use many strategies mentioned above in their lives.

Although there are different strategies, an individual can use them according to situation and nature of the conflict.

Conflict management is also the inherent nature of those who live a professional and business life.

Now that you have a clear idea of all of the strategies, you can begin employing them in times of need to keep your business functioning smoothly.

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