Good Conflict Resolution In Business Environment Research Paper Example
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Introduction (Thesis statement on conflict resolution in business environment, its definition, and relevance).
BODY – Discuss expert opinions on conflict resolution, the positive and negative aspects of conflicts, the causal factors of workplace and business conflicts, the types of conflicts, general guidelines and conflict management techniques.
What Craig Runde Has to Say about Conflict Resolution on the Workplace.
The Positive and Negative Aspects of Conflicts. The Controversy of Dual Outcomes.
The Causal Factors of Workplace and Business Conflicts.
Types of Conflicts in Organizations and Business Structures.
General Guidelines for Conflict Resolution in Business Environment.
Conflict Management Techniques for Business Associates and Workplace Managers. The Controversy of Dual Results: The Pros and Cons of Methods.
Conflict Resolution in Business Environment, Its Definitions, and Relevance to Business and Organizational Structures
It is a primary concern of all human resources specialists to secure a cooperative working atmosphere and smooth conflicts over, if any, be they between business associates or employees on the workplace. Business environment is competitive and income-oriented. As such, it calls for the maximum mobilization of human resources and colossal productive efforts. Towards that end, management handpicks the best experts from their talent pools or make a massive headhunting effort to enlist the services of highly qualified professionals, whose exemplary work the management sets up as an example to follow, which cannot but breed envy on the part of employees seeking to achieve the highly-raised bar of professional standards in a losing effort.
Thus can the working atmosphere of a company conducive to productive performance be ruined much to the pleasure of business competitors on the market. Hence, with all their efforts to preserve a positive working microclimate, in no way can executives, managers, and other business actors avert conflicts. What they can do, should a conflict emerge, is minimize the adverse effects and conciliate parties in conflict by resorting to specific conflict resolution techniques that have proved effective in business environment. The point is that conflicts are the unavoidable reality of business matrix, but for all that, approaches to conflict resolution that have their pros and cons can help neutralize the dispute and restore the productive atmosphere back to normal. Before proceeding to addressing the mentioned major points, it is sensible to define the concept of conflict. Kohlrieser (1) states a conflict shows itself as a distinction between two or more groups or individuals notable for disagreement, tensions, polarization, and emotions. During a conflict, bonding tends to be lacking or broken. The Foundation Coalition (1) suggests that a conflict is a contests or struggle between individuals with opposing beliefs, needs, objectives, values, and ideas.
What Craig Runde Has to Say about Conflict Resolution on the Workplace
Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics at Eckerd College Craig Runde (n.p.) suggests that disputes are inevitable, as agreed by employees and teams who admit they have no plans of how to handle conflicts. They seem to employ the autopilot approach to responding, which means they operate in the so-called reactive mode, for want of experience of resolving conflict situations. Reacting to conflicts is an inherent human characteristic. The expert believes the fight or flight instincts to work well in conflicts, by which life in in peril. The Foundation Coalition (1) also states that the fight or flight is a psychological response instinct. Still, according to Runde (n.p.), the instincts appear not to work in the modern life context. Pouncing on other people or fighting them and avoiding a conflict or seeking safety in flight appear useless in situations, wherein disputes involve people in mutual dependence who are in need of further cooperation. Acting like that is the pledge of a negative outcome of conflict resolution efforts built on the fight or flight instincts (Runde n.p.). To avoid the adverse outcomes of maladroit dispute resolution efforts, it is necessary that mediators be cognizant of the casual factors, types, general and specific approaches to resolving conflicts, whether on the workplace between employees and departments or between business associates.
The Positive and Negative Aspects of Conflicts. The Controversy of Dual Outcomes
Kohlrieser (1) notes that an average manager spend a total of 24% of time handling workplace conflicts. Student Health Center (n.p.) states that a dispute makes parties in conflict examine an issue and find a common solution. Disputes make it possible for people to explore new ideas and to acquire new perspectives and information. Intragroup disputes or conflicts developing in groups require cooperation in finding a solution, which can enhance the cohesiveness of a group. The willingness to confront and tackle an issue demonstrates commitment, concern, and the wish of retaining professional relationship. As estimated 81% of respondents in the USA, according to CPP Inc. (n.p.), believe in the positive results of workplace disputes. Almost half of the interviewed reported having acquired a better understanding of fellow workers, improved problem-solving skills, professional relationships, innovativeness, and performance. If properly managed, disputes can be beneficial to organizations. In order to be beneficial, they need to train managers’ ability of resolving differences in a constructive way (CPP Inc. n.p.). Kohlrieser (1) believes that disputes are the lifeblood of any organization with a high performance rate. The argument is that diverse points, disagreements, and disputes related to strategy and implementation attitudes can generate energy, herald changes, and boost creativity, besides strengthening team ties. Multinational corporations, governments, and law enforcement and humanitarian agencies are believed to be capitalizing on these advantages of workplace disputes.
As far as negative consequences are concerned, win-lose approaches to conflict resolution can undermine and harm mutual respect, trust, engagement, and alignment (Kohlrieser 1). According to Student Health Center (n.p.), a dispute can result in negative feelings between those in conflict, a dispute can result in isolation developing between groups or individuals that can set a negative precedent for contacts in the future. The application of unsatisfactory resolution approaches can waste the energy and time of parties in conflict (Student Health Center n.p.). In business environment, time is money, which means it is a valuable resource not to waste. A conflict situation, by itself, if durable, produces a great deal of bad blood that may stand in the way of further cooperation. Once tarnished, a relationship between business associates takes a long time to become as tenacious as before. Isolation emerging between team members can prove counterproductive especially for teams working on multimillion projects, on which the lion’s share of net income depends. Then again, cooperation in finding a solution can becoming a unifying factor since a joint effort is what employees or business associates need to reach a much-needed conciliation. It follows therefrom that conflicts controversially have both negative and positive effects.
The Causal Factors of Workplace and Business Conflicts
Queensland Government (n.p.) suggests that the identification of the most widespread workplace disputes is certain to allow managers to predict, deter, or handle them. A breached agreement, the lack of skills, the deficit of understanding and information, conflicting values or interests, maltreatment, discrimination, a mental disease, scanty resources, personality style, organizational issues, and bad intentions in the form of fraudulence or corruption are the most common reasons for workplace disputes (Queensland Government n.p.). Additionally, conflicts can emerge over such reasons as project priorities, administration procedures, human resources, performance concessions, technical opinions, budget and cost, schedules, and personalities (Verma 3-4). It is safe to presume that similar issues may lead to a conflict between business associates, not just between employees working for business corporations or companies. The breach of agreement contracting parties concluded may cause a serious rift in business relationship to such an extent that a partner whose interests have suffered may take a legal action or take a dispute to a law court. As is universally known, business is all about generating maximum income, with partners looking to act in their best interests, which may lead them to infringe those of their partners. Different businesspersons may have the opposing system of values, one placing focus on the profitability of a financial project as a revenue-oriented entrepreneur, the other being more anthropocentric, so to speak, prioritizing the interests of stakeholders and company employees. The latter may fear lest he or she not be forced into cutting back on the workforce or reduce the payroll.
Types of Conflicts in Organizations and Business Structures
Rahim (23) states that organizational conflict is a complex concept that falls into four major types. Based on the scientific typology, conflicts within organizations may be intra-organizational, or such that occur in organizations and inter-organizational, or the ones between two or more organizations. Intra-organizational disputes are classifiable into those occurring between groups or separate individuals. Based on this peculiarity, intra-organizational disputes fall into such categories as interpersonal, intrapersonal, intergroup, and intragroup conflicts. Intrapersonal disputes, otherwise known as intra-psychic or intra-individual conflicts, has place when a member of an organization is required to execute tasks or assume roles out of tune with their objectives, values, interests, or expertise. Interpersonal dispute is a dyadic conflict, that is to say, it involves two conflicting parties of the same or different units or levels of organizational hierarchy. Intragroup disputes, otherwise known as intradepartmental conflicts, are disputes that occur between two or more subgroups within one group or members of a group in respect of tasks, objectives, and procedures, to name but a few. It may be by the disagreement or incompatibilities between all or some of group members and its leaders that a dispute may be caused.
Intergroup conflict also referred to as an interdepartmental conflict is a dispute that unfolds between two or more groups or units within an organization. To quote an example, production and marketing, line and staff, field staffs and headquarters may all become involved in an intergroup conflict. A dispute may also develop between management and labor (Rahim 23-24). Seeing that corporations or other business entities often enter into an agreement with other companies, there is always the possibility of an inter-organizational dispute developing between the two due to a conflict of interests or the breach of an agreement leading to a serious confrontation. Needless to exemplify the intrapersonal disputes, with employees in various business companies assigned to a job that does not meet their qualification or expectations. The same is true of intergroup conflicts that pit marketing and production departments against each other since both may have different ideas regarding product-marketing companies as means of brand popularization.
General Guidelines for Conflict Resolution in Business Environment
According to Hofstrand (n.p.), people in business environment can make it necessary aid in dispute resolution, which may require that some take over a leadership role in the management and resolution of disputable situations. The first thing for peacemakers to do is begin a dialogue by assembling parties in conflict together and promising to be attentive, honest, an open to all in what is sure to be a highly delicate situation. Presenting current issues and discussing them one at a time is what experts recommend. Important is to remember that every party has the equal right to voice concerns and that an effective peacemaker is the one who shows understanding to everyone’s position. A mediator needs to bring all conflicting parties and engage in a communication process by putting questions, encouraging answers, and listening to people replying to questions. Then comes the assimilation of information, by which everyone involved ought to give a careful consideration to all feelings and facts, with every attitude expressed and its causes clarified.
With that, a mediator must reinforce agreements, which is a strong psychological instrument. The facilitation of negotiations and the building of understanding and trust are the advantages of agreement reinforcement that should take place prior to the negotiation of disagreements. The next phase is negotiating disagreements through ranking and reviewing. As soon as a mediator has ranked problems, they need to look for adjustments from each belligerent with regard to the easiest and the most important issues first. It is only after everyone understands feelings and facts that a mediator can proceed to negotiating disagreements. In conclusion, a person conciliating the parties in conflict should solidify agreements and confirm solutions to the issue. A mediator needs to inquire into whether consensus is still acceptable and review changes, to which parties agreed. A handshake, a checklist, informal or formal contracts can serve as the signs of confirmation of the commitment to adjustments agreed (Hofstrand n.p.).
Conflict Management Techniques for Business Associates and Workplace Managers. The Controversy of Dual Results: The Pros and Cons of Methods
Hofstrand (n.p.) states that competition is a win-lose method that reflects the intention of satisfying personal needs and addressing concerns at other people’s expense. The least cooperative and the most aggressive or assertive business associates have recourse to this approach. The competitors avail themselves of any power mechanisms that are readily accessible and acceptable, such as rank, expertise, economics, persuasion, or coercion so that they will be able to achieve the desired. There are neither advantages nor disadvantages of the style, yet its appropriateness and efficiency are dependent on the situation (Hofstrand n.p.). According to Usmani (n.p.), force or direct is a win-lose method, whereby one party in conflict agrees with the other party’s standpoint and enforces their wishes. One of its key disadvantages is the possibility of demoralizing team members. A person to make concessions stands to lose the chance received from the viewpoint of the opposing party, which may negatively influence the impression of the person on team members. The need for a quick or immediate solution, high stakes, and the mediocre importance of stakeholders involved along with the relationship with them make the approach worth utilizing. With no time for investigation at disposal and the knowledge of one party’s rightness in place, mediators can initiate conciliation via the method.
Accommodation is a lose-win approach, whereby business associates prioritize the concerns and needs of the other party, thereby hurting their own interests. Unassertive and cooperative behavior is characteristic of accommodation. One party being less concerned than the other is the situation, in which the method works. It is applicable in particular when the avoidance of disruption and the preservation of harmony are a top priority. Resulting in cooperating relationships, the approach is believed to build good will (Hofstrand n.p.). Usmani (n.p.) also maintains that the technique is apt at restoring harmony and creating goodwill as well as adding that it had the potential of bringing the temperature of a heated argument down and giving enough time for parties to find a permanent solution to their issue. Method advantages make themselves seen when a temporary solution is needed or people are short of time. Since the initiators of conciliation using the method tend to give more concerns to other parties, they may capitalize on the situation. The users of the technique may have their position of authoritative leader weakened in the process. The approach fails when applied for solving issues (Usmani n.p.).
According to Hofstrand (n.p.), avoidance is a lose-lose method employed by whatever apathetic business associates are willing to let the conflict go unaddressed. Such individuals see no interests in satisfying the needs and addressing the concerns of each other. Both parties put an unassertive and uncooperative behavior on display. The method is possible to use effectively as an interim approach or a short-term strategy unless and until emotions die down or more information on the dispute becomes available. If the possibility of meeting the needs and addressing the concerns of those in conflict varies from null to slim, this strategy is applicable on a permanent basis (Hofstrand n.p.). According to Usmani (n.p.), low stakes, the low importance of stakeholders involved, the inexpediency of time investment into the issue, the high possibility of problem disappearance with time, little-to-no information on the problem available, and a heated argument between those in conflict along with the need to give them cooling time are factors that rationalize the use of the method. The advantage of the avoidance or withdrawal method is that it helps economize on time that can be invested in productive activities while the disadvantage is that the approach does chip away at people’s position as project managers as well as affecting relationships. Some experts are united in the conviction that avoidance is not a resolution method since avoiding a dispute whenever it transpires means that a person runs away from the conflict, without taking any actions (Usmani n.p.).
Collaboration is a win-win method, by which parties look to meet mutual needs and resolve concerns. The approach involves assertion and cooperation to the maximum degree. Collaboration calls for more commitment than other styles do. Apart from that, it takes more energy and time to achieve the desired conciliatory outcome. That the outcome of the conflict regulatory efforts is mutually beneficial facilitates the commitment of all conflicting parties to resolution (Hofstrand n.p.). According to Usmani (n.p.), the collaborative or problem-solving approach allows parties in conflict to work out a consensus and ensure a shared responsibility and commitment. The experts also agrees that the disadvantageous aspect of the method is that it is effort- and time-consuming, which is inconvenient whenever a quick solution is needed. The need to include various views, the involvement of influential individuals in the dispute, the need of consensus, and the willingness of the equal distribution of responsibility among all parties involved are thought to make the collaborative approach an important method to use (Usmani n.p.).
Compromise is a consensus between the above-mentioned four methods. The parties will be able to achieve, address, and satisfy their objectives, concerns, and needs. As opposed to collaboration, those in conflict confront few problems using compromise. The approach is worth employing in situations when the objectives if the parties are of moderate significance and there is no use making efforts and spending time required in the case of collaboration (Hofstrand n.p.). Usmani (n.p.) states that the method is applicable when all parties need to be on the winning side, everybody is in equal relations, a temporary solution is required, and forcing and collaborative approaches have turned out futile. The major advantages of the compromise or reconciliation technique are lower stress, faster results, the possibility of keeping all parties’ composure and finding a permanent solution to the issue. At the same time, the method is disadvantageous since it does not produce trust in the long term and allow the dispute to reemerge at some point in the future.
Conflicts or struggle between people with different interests, values, and objectives can and does emerge between employees or groups in the workplace or business associates. Craig Runde, a renowned conflict resolution expert, considers human nature and conflict response mechanism as determined by the fight or flight instinct, yet it does not work when people need to cooperate and build long-lasting working relations. The controversial nature of conflicts consists in their ability of producing positive effects like energy generation, creativity stimulation, team cohesion strengthening, the acquisition of new information, perspectives, and new ideas, and negative effects like energy and time consumption, negative emotion production, and isolation development. A breached agreement, the lack of skills, conflicting values or interests, maltreatment, discrimination, scanty resources, performance concessions, technical opinions, budget and cost, schedules, and personalities, organizational issues, and bad intentions may all cause workplace disputes.
Conflicts within organizations may be intra-organizational, or the ones that occur in organizations between groups or separate individuals and inter-organizational developing between two or more organizations. Intra-organizational disputes further subdivide into such categories as interpersonal, intrapersonal, intergroup, and intragroup disputes. General guidelines for conflict resolution in business environment include dialogue initiation, the involvement of all parties, the assimilation of information, the reinforcement of agreements, the negotiation of disagreements, and the solidification of agreements. More specifically, conflict resolution implies approaches like competition, accommodation, avoidance, collaboration, compromise, and force or direct. Controversy stems from the dual effects since there are pros and cons of applying the methods; however, the biggest argument originates in the fact that avoidance, in itself, is not a technique since it implies a neutral stance on a matter in dispute. Overall, conflict resolution is a process of conciliating parties in conflict by means of specific techniques that controversially lead to dual results that can prove to be either positive and efficient or negative and counterproductive.
CPP Inc. “The Pros and Cons of Workplace Conflict.” Quality Digest. 20 October 2008. n.p. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Hofstrand, Don. “Solving Conflicts between Business Associates.” Iowa State University. Extension and Outreach. November 2009. n.p. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Kohlrieser, George. “Six Essential Skills for Managing Conflict.” Perspectives for Managers. 149 (2007): 1-4. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Queensland Government. “Business and industry portal.” Business.qld.gov.ua. 7 January 2015. n.p. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Rahim, M. Afzalur. Managing conflict in organizations. 3rd ed. USA: Quorum Books, 2001. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Runde, Craig. Expert Interview with Craig Runde: how to Handle Conflict in the Workplace. Discovery Learning Inc. 8 May 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
The Foundation Coalition. “Understanding Conflict and Conflict Management.” FC Coalition. n.d. 1-7. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Usmani, Fahad. “Conflict Resolution Techniques.” PM Study Circle. 2012. n.p. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Verma, Vijay, K. Conflict Management. Project Management Handbook. Pennsylvania: The Project Management Institute, 1998. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
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