Presentation on theme: "Managing Conflict in Organizations"— Presentation transcript:
1 Managing Conflict in Organizations Thomas P. Holland, Ph.D., ProfessorInstitute for Nonprofit Organizations
2 Handling ConflictsDefinition: when two or more values or perspectives are contradictory in natureMay be internal (within self) or external (between two or more people).Conflicts are problems when they hamper productivity, lower morale, cause inappropriate behaviors if poorly handled.Conflicts are useful when theyRaise important but unaddressed problemsMotivate people to attend to themHelp people learn how to recognize and benefit from differences
3 Things that provoke workplace conflicts Poor communications, employees surprised by new decisions, don’t understand reasons for decisions, come to distrust supervisorsAlignment of resources doesn’t match work expectations, disagreement about who does whatPersonal differences, conflicting values and actions, dislike of aspects of others (that we don’t like in ourselves)Abuses of power, authoritarianismInconsistent or uninformed leadership, passing the buck, repeated poor handling of an issue, managers don’t understand the jobs of subordinates.
4 Ways People Deal with Conflicts Avoid or ignore it. May worsen conflict over time.Accommodate: give in to others. May be useful when you know you will have a better opportunity in the near future.Compromise: mutual give-and-take when you want to get beyond the issueCollaborate: seek ways of working together for mutual goals without trying to solve issueCompete: Try to get your way, expressing strong convictions about your position, seeking to persuade others. May include efforts to discredit opposition.Warfare: polarizing the conflict, using formal and informal power to undermine opposition and gain control of organizational resources.
5 Conflict Management in increasing order of difficulty Recognize that some differences are useful and always presentPrevent initiation of conflicts by developing clear policiesSet limits on ways conflict may be expressedHelp individuals understand triggering factors and alternative responsesHelp individuals find different ways of coping with consequences of conflictsResolve basic issues underlying the conflict
6 Supervisory Actions to Minimize Conflicts Keep current on job descriptions, making sure that roles don’t conflict and no tasks fall into cracksBuild positive relationships with staff, meet with them regularly, ask about accomplishments and challengesGet regular status reports, including needs and planned next stepsProvide staff development opportunities on key aspects of workDevelop procedures for handling challenges, drawing upon employees’ inputHold regular meetings to communicate status of projects, resources and challenges, new initiatives
7 Steps in Managing Conflicts Know what you don’t like in yourself, and recognize that we react negatively to those things in others.Stop arguing, move to discussion between adultsManage yourself in interactions. Speak calmly even if other doesn’t. Maintain eye contact.Move discussion in private room.Allow person time to vent without reacting or interrupting.Check to make sure you have heard their concerns correctly. Ask clarifying questions as appropriate, making no judgments about responses.Clarify where/whether organizational policies touch on issue.
8 Further Steps Identify points where you agree and disagree. Address the issues, not the person. Rule out personal attacks.Keep focus on the mission and on the future, not the pastListen carefully, respectfullySeek mutual solutions. Ask “what could we do to fix this problem?” If more complaints, go back to previous steps, then ask question again.If possible, identify at least one action that can be done by one or both of you.If not, ask for a cooling off period before meeting again. Could we “agree to disagree?”Seek advice from manager.Consider inviting in mediator if appropriate.
9 Applications Exercise Analyze a workplace conflict you (or another person) have experienced. Describe the issue, triggers, responses, approach(es) to handling it, consequences, successes and mistakes, lessons learned.Set forth a plan for handling such a situation more effectively in the future. Who should do what, when, how, why?What steps can you take to cultivate the skills to handle conflicts more productively?