Organizational Behavior and Conflict Management

Abstract

Conflict management has been one of the most ignored and most important issues that have contributed to the collapse of most companies. Through having a clear strategy that will identify conflicts before they take shape in an organization, could be a better way of salvaging an organization from getting into hardships. There are two main stages of solving the conflict that includes the conflict identification and managing. Once the conflict is identified, it easier to solve it compared to un-identified conflict.

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This paper intends to give a clear road map on the way conflict can be managed. The paper starts with how conflict can be identified, managed and solved in an effective way. Managing conflict is the most complicated issue that most companies are faced with. This paper will give the right process and away on which conflict can be solved.

Introduction

Conflict is a situation when two or more perspectives, opinions and values of one individual or a group of individuals are contradictory in nature to those of another individual or group. Conflict can be within an individual when one is not living in accordance to one’s values or when these values, opinions of perspectives are threatened. (Bobocel, R et al., 1998)

Conflict is needed in various organizations in order to act as a platform for addressing problems, energize people to work and also to ‘be real’. It also helps people to recognize and appreciate their differences. Conflict is therefore inevitable in any organization be it a learning institution, business institution or a country at large. Conflict is normally not considered a problem. However, when conflict is not well managed it becomes a problem. This is when conflict causes less productivity, lowers the moral of workers, causes many and continuous conflicts and results to inappropriate behaviors. Conflict can cause members of organizations to engage in verbal or physical confrontations (Blooming, 1995).

Main Body

Conflict management is regarded as a long-term management of intractable conflicts. This is the way people handle different grievances that arise between them or between their places of work. This is done through standing for what they regard as right against what they regard as wrong. The methods through which the grievances are handled are determined by social structure or geometry of the case.

Management of organizations can sometimes cause conflicts in an organization, some managerial actions such as (Kathman et al, 1990).

  • Poor communication where employees are continuously surprised by issues that affect them such as new rules and regulations, new programs etc. when employees do not understand the reasons as to why management decides to make some decisions such as retrenchment or changing the salary grades. As a result the employees rely on the rumors or grapevine to get their information.
  • When there are insufficient resources. When work has to be performed with minimum resources the employees are restricted to the amount of work they can execute. There will be disagreements as to ‘who does what’.
  • When there are constant conflicting values or actions between managers and employees. For example, strong personal natures of managers. Managers can be very strict and rigid with their employees.
  • Leadership problems including too-strong or uninformed leadership. Employees keep seeing and facing the same continued problems at the workplace. Such as supervisors not understanding the jobs of their subordinates or lack of proper direction as to how to execute duties and responsibilities (Wilkinson et al, 1997).

In order to manage and solve conflicts, there is a need to distinguish when the conflict is arising and get the best way to solve them. There are different indicators that a manager should look at in order to know there is a probability of conflict to arise in an organization (Kachmar, 1998).

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  • Body language – Body language is one of the indicators that can show the probability of conflict arises. The managers should closely look at how the employees and other junior managements are behaving. For instance, a manager might tell the employee to attend a certain duty but declines or behaves in a manner that suggests that he/she is not willing to perform the given task. This could be an indicator that the employee is not in terms with the manager or he is not appreciating what the manager is telling him (Darling, John R. and Dale E. Cluff, 1987).
  • Withholding bad news – This is another way to tell there is a conflict that is rising. In most cases, some managers may not be willing to tell their employees that there are some issues that are happening in the company. For example, the company might be planning to retrench some people but is withholding the issue by themselves without informing the involved employees, this could be a probable result of conflict. The employees could have had a misunderstanding between them and managers and the retrenchment could be based on this.
  • Open disagreements – Whenever there are open disagreements, it can be an indicator of arising conflicts. The open disagreements are mostly caused by different views that are raised by the concerned parties. For example, the employees could be demanding salary increase and the management do not want that, these could cause conflict because the interests of both concerned parties are not met and non want to be submissive to the other.
  • Disagreements – In some cases, there could disagreements regardless of the issue. In this regard, conflict could arise between the disagreeing parties. Example, the employee might want to perform a given task or wants a leave out in a critical situation, then the manager denies him a leave out, this could cause conflict between the employees and the managers and is also a clear indication of conflict.
  • No discussion of progress, failure relative to goals, failure to evaluate the superintendent fairly- This is another indication of the arising conflict. If the set goals are not met and the concerned parties are not willing to discuss any issues that would bring in progress could lead to conflict among the concerned parties as well as blaming each other for the failure.
  • Increased lack of respect – Whenever there is decreased respect among the managers or employees, or in some cases between the managers and the employees, could be an indication of a conflict that is rising. In any organization or an institution, the employees and managers are subjected to have a respect among them and also to adhere to the governing rules and policies. When anything is falling short of this, there is a probability that there is an arising conflict between the parties concerned (Hulbert, 1990).

There are several key actions that managers can utilize to minimize conflict.

  • Carry out regular reviews of job descriptions. Encourage the employees to work on them. Managers should ensure that job roles of the employees do not conflict.
  • Managers should constantly build relationships with their subordinates. There should be good industrial relations within the organization. The employees should be made to feel part and parcel of the organization. Management should address the challenges facing their employees (Weaver-Meyers, January 2002)
  • Managers should train their employees on basic issues such as interpersonal communications, delegation and conflict management.
  • Procedures should be developed for routine procedures and include input from the employees. Have them write procedures when appropriate. In addition to that, provide training on how to go about writing these procedures.
  • Ensure that there are regular meetings such as weekly or monthly meetings to communicate new issues and report on the previous ones.

Conclusion

Whenever a conflict occurs between the employees and the management within an organization, managers are responsible for solving it. Research has shown that an effective intervention has various criteria. Some of which include making quick decisions quickly that will be accepted by subordinates and have a positive impact on the organization (Allred, Winter 1987)

Reference

Allred, Carol B. (1987) The Anatomy of Conflict: Some Thoughts on Managing Staff Conflict. Law Library Journal 79, no. 1: 7–32.

Blooming, M.C. (1995) Conflict management as a fun-damental leadership skill! [workshop presented at the 1995 CLA leadership conference]. Catholic Library World v. 66 p. 25-7

Bobocel, R et al. Managerial Accounts and Fairness Perceptions in Conflict Resolution:Differentiating the Effect of Minimizing Responsibility and Providing Justification. Journal Article; Basic and Applied Social Psychology, vol.20, 1998.

Darling, John R. and Dale E. Cluff. (1987) Managing Interpersonal Conflict in a University Library. Library Administration and Management 1, no. 1: 16–22.

Hulbert, Doris. (1990) Assertive Management in Libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship 16, no. 3 : 158–162.

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Kachmar, D. (1998) Understanding the workplace: managing conflict in the workplace [panel discussion at the 1997 Charleston Conference]. Library Acquisitions v. 22 no. 2 p. 216-8.

Kathman, Jane McGwun and Michael D. Kathman. (1990) Conflict Management in the Academic Library. Journal of Academic Librarianship 16, no. 3:145–149.

Pettas, William and Steven L. Gilliland. (1992) Conflict in the large Academic Library: Friend or Foe? Journal of Academic Librarianship 18, no. 1: 24–29.

Weaver-Meyers, P.L. (2002) Conflict resolution: a case study about academic librarians and faculty status [at the University of Oklahoma]. College & Research Libraries v. 63 no. 1 p. 25-34.

Wilkinson, Margaret Ann and John P. (1997) Plotting Conflict. Library Administration and Management 11, no. 4 :205–216.

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