Identify causes of conflict at work
Employee conflict in a workplace is a common occurrence that arises because of differences in people’s behavior, personalities, and values. A conflict could be the result of miscommunication, inadequate training, fight over resources, lack of appreciation and equal opportunities, unclear job roles, opposing objectives, and miscommunication among others.
Miscommunication is a very common cause of employee conflict. Employees come from diverse backgrounds that shape their personalities to a significant degree; therefore, they also substantially differ in their communication styles. It should be mentioned that failure to communicate is part of the miscommunication problem that brings the most harm and causes conflicts to grow out of proportion. Similar to communication patterns, the personalities of employees may cause workplace conflict. It is important to note that conflicts arise only when colleagues do not want to understand or accept individual differences. They might insult each other’s backgrounds, experiences, or personalities. Gender ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religious and political views can significantly contribute to personality differences, magnifying individual proclivities for certain types of behaviors or attitudes. Value differences often come to the fore in workplaces characterized by a multigenerational workforce. Opposing objectives and unhealthy competition, if not properly managed, can lead to the creation of a hostile work environment. Moreover, it might discourage teamwork, reduce productivity, and lead to missed deadlines.
Describe the stages in the development of conflict
Conflict development is a sequential process that occurs in escalating stages of importance. It is essential to recognize different stages of a conflict in order to deal with emerging issues at the earlier stages where solutions can be easily found. If a problem has degenerated to a significant level of seriousness, a situation might go out of control. Therefore, conflicting employees require the involvement of a manager that could help them to alleviate the situation. There are five stages of conflict development: latent conflict, perceived conflict, felt conflict, manifest conflict, and conflict aftermath.
Latent conflict is the first level of conflict escalation, and it is associated with the feeling of uneasiness and discomfort that indicates that a problem actually exists. Even though this stage of conflict development is a relatively harmless part of normal life, it is necessary to conduct a meeting with an employee that feels discomfort in order to mediate a solution and prevent a situation from spiraling out of control.
If managers do not properly react at the latent conflict stage, a situation might escalate to the level of perceived conflict. Unlike the previous stage, it is more noticeable because, at this point, minor incidents start to occur. The parties involved a move from a mild feeling of irritation or discomfort to mistrust or even hostility. The development of this stage is associated with a lack of cooperation, and it is often exacerbated by any action or lack thereof taken by one of the involved parties.
Felt conflict is the next stage of escalation. At this level, each party is guided by their assumptions about other individual’s intentions. These misunderstandings occur if employees who are uncomfortable with each other fail to properly communicate.
The manifest stage of conflict follows very quickly if the situation is not properly managed. As the situation deteriorates into the felt conflict stage, the parties start feeling suspicious about each other. At this stage, they do not want to talk to each other and view their relationship through the filter of distrust. Neither party is prepared to yield as the hostilities become more intensive.
The final stage of conflict development is associated with outright hostilities. Without the external involvement in the situation, the opponents might cause serious damage to either themselves or to a company. When this level of escalation is reached, the parties start stereotyping in an attempt to negatively identify each other and might even engage in outright violence.
Explain the effects of conflict on individual and team performance at work
Disagreement can have negative or productive effects on individual and team performance at work. If a conflict is not substantive, it creates frustration, anxiety, confusion, and resentment and could significantly damage involved individuals. This type of conflict is undesirable because it negatively influences team performance, making everyone demotivated thereby depleting resources and raising the cost of production. The enmity between employees reduces the cohesion of a team and results in poor coordination of mutually dependent tasks. This, in turn, might lead to team members withdrawing from participation making it extremely difficult to fulfill the team’s mission. The enmity between employees, if left unaddressed, can result in increased leave rates and high turnover level.
A conflicted environment prevents individuals from clearly expressing their thoughts and intentions thereby restricting a productive flow of ideas. Employees that feel resentful towards each other stop sharing information properly, refuse to engage in cooperation and spend a significant share of their time resolving the conflict. Therefore, involved parties usually have low morale and cannot focus on the core goals. Instead, they a lot of their energy by focusing on gossip and other methods for dealing with stress and frustration. Moreover, opposing parties often feel apprehensive about each other’s actions that might damage their reputation or that of a company. As a result, individual productivity is decreased, the rates of individual attendance fall, and organizations start losing money. Escalation of conflict without proper mediation may result in violence causing serious legal consequences to involved parties and, sometimes, even organization. Therefore, it is essential to resolve conflict before stress and frustration take physical forms.
As organization members progress through escalating stages of a conflict, their communication patterns start to deteriorate leading to the communication gap. Whenever there is enmity between people, they tend to talk less. It will surely affect the quality of their performance in measurable areas of achievement such as a number of clients or profit percentages. If there is hostility between team members, they are likely to withdraw some information from each other. If key data has not been presented or outlined properly organizational effectiveness is likely to be damaged.
Individuals frustrated with the degeneration of the situation might want to terminate their membership in the organization. It happens because they no longer find the environment of the company welcome, and become upset too much about the level of enmity between opposing parties. Once team members start to leave, the company has to spend a lot of money and resources on finding new ones and training them.
It should be mentioned that a productive conflict can have positive consequences. Whether a conflict is substantive or not depends almost entirely on how it is being perceived by individual team members. It is necessary to remember that conflicts affect not only involved parties: a discord can have spill-over effects on all members of a team. Therefore, conflict is a process that has to be carefully managed at the early stages of its development.
Productive conflicts can improve team performance to a significant degree through the removal of unnecessary barriers and communication gaps created by miscommunication and faulty assumptions about an individual’s aims, behavior, strategy, or character. Therefore, a substantive conflict is discord between team members that can provide them with broader awareness about each other’s personalities thereby improving overall productivity. Constructive conflict can provide employees with an opportunity for taking different approaches or finding new solutions to existing problems thus improving the working process. Moreover, team members might become inspired to develop improved ways of communication after deficiencies in the previous form of exchanging information have been revealed.
Furthermore, those team members that view conflict as an opportunity for brainstorming ideas or attacking problems from different angles might increase the productivity of an organization. However, in order to transform clashes of ideas into innovative approaches leading to the accomplishment of organizations’ goals, it is necessary to ensure that conflict is properly mediated at the early stages of its development. Therefore, effective managers should strive to facilitate cooperation between team members finding themselves in disagreement with them by helping them to either engage in more productive behavior or by adapting it to better suit the needs of other employees. Great leaders recognize the value of conflict and understand that, if properly managed, disagreements could bring team members together and help them to better appreciate and respect each other’s differences.
Explain any recognized technique a manager could use to minimize and resolve conflict in the workplace
Conflict management is a process aimed at eliminating negative aspects of conflict and magnifying the positive ones in order to increase group cohesion and improve self-knowledge. Taking into consideration the fact that conflicts are often associated with the depletion of trust and productivity, it is necessary to deal with issues of discord between employees in a professional and productive manner. There are many ways for deescalating conflict and exploring the opportunities for improvement presented by it. The assertive method of communication is an effective strategy for minimizing the negative aspects of a conflict. This method involves maintaining one’s position without willing to recognize another individual’s viewpoint. An assertive person demonstrates that they are willing to pursue their concerns without violating other people’s needs. Strong communication skills serve as an instrument that can be applied in situations where less assertive methods are ineffective. An assertive employee shows their willingness to collaborate without giving in to aggression or pressure. The assertive method of communication involves three steps for getting one’s message across. The message should include comments on objectionable behavior and its effects. An employee willing to use forceful communication in order to respond to hostility should also inform another party about feelings their behavior produces in them.
Accommodation or smoothing is another method for dealing with conflict on an individual level. This method involves catering to other people’s needs rather than accommodating one’s own needs or concerns. Smoothing might work if the issue is not important or requires temporary relief from the tension produced by the conflict. Other methods for solving conflict include compromising, collaboration, and withdrawing.
There is a commonly used method for resolving workplace conflicts called CUDSA. It is a framework for mediating different kinds of conflict that utilize the following steps: confronting the behavior, understanding each other’s position, defining the problem, searching for a win-win solution; getting an agreement. The mediation process offered by CUDSA is recommended for use in different organizations. Each step of the framework for handling conflict will be described below.
Confronting the behavior
Any contentious situation always involves more than one individual. Therefore, in order to resolve conflict, it is necessary to understand the situation and identify points of disagreement between involved parties. To this end, an effective manager has to act as a mediator by bringing opposing parties together for negotiation. A manager has to encourage conflicting employees to reveal they’re true feelings as well as to express their points of view.
Understanding each other’s position
It is important that individuals engaged in conflict have an opportunity to hear each other. Understanding each other’s position helps to determine whether there was a real issue that has led to the conflict or it was just a misunderstanding. Therefore, it is necessary to establish how the conflict started in order to come up with a satisfactory compromise.
Defining the problem
This stage of conflict management allows a mediator to clearly define the problem in order to generate ideas for solving it. If a win-win situation is to be achieved, it is necessary to discern people’s needs that caused the problem in the first place. The problem should be clearly stated so the opposing parties can easily understand it. The manager should base their conclusion on the points of view and feelings of two conflicting sides.
Searching for a win-win solution
This step is associated with the collaborative problem-solving approach. Therefore, a win-win solution can be achieved only if the parties to the conflict are willing to engage in the rapid generation of ideas. A win-win approach requires opposing sides to leave their negative feelings aside and concentrate on brainstorming possible solutions. The role of an effective manager is to encourage them to find as many solution ideas as possible.
Getting an agreement
The last step of CUDSA model involves conflicting parties looking at possible solutions, checking possible consequences, and choosing an optimal option.
Describe how a manager could promote a positive atmosphere in order to minimize the adverse effects of conflict
A manager exercising effectiveness could encourage the development of a positive work atmosphere by concentrating on two areas: supporting individuals and supporting a team. The area of individual support emphasizes training as the main way to help employees improve their performance and stimulate personal growth. The training is a structured process that allows managers to have direct control over the development of employees’ skills, knowledge, and competence. Coaching and counseling are the best ways to support individuals and help them create a positive atmosphere at work.
In order to minimize the adverse effects of conflict, it is also necessary to support a team. Effective managers regularly survey employees’ performance, collect their feedback, and make sure that nobody experiences discomfort created by the lack of understanding among team members. It helps to detect conflict at the early stages of its development. Effective managers always seek to improve communication in their teams by establishing clear communication lines and offering productive solutions for expressing criticism. In order to become a great role model that can inspire their team and engender the trust of individual employees, a manager can attend leadership ILM training. It will significantly improve their ability to get the most of their workers as well as help them feel inspired and encouraged for producing excellent project outcomes. When a manager makes an active effort to connect with their team, employees notice it and become motivated to engage in productive collaboration for the sake of group cohesion.