Why Conflict Management is Important / Issues To Be Solved / Expected Outcomes
All leaders should know how to confront tough situations and manage conflicts on the team. This skill is important in order to prevent issues from amplifying and disrupting operations and team dynamics. Although conflict causes tension, it is not always a bad thing to have on the team because it is an opportunity for team members to learn and grow in their ever-changing environments (Northouse, 2016). Leaders should be able to identify problems and interconnectedness of different problems and take action to resolve the problems with innovative solutions. Leaders need to know how to properly manage conflict on their teams, so that team members can grow and get back on track. Otherwise, tensions will reduce productivity and performance in the long run.
There are 4 sources of conflict:
- Personal Differences
- Tension in relationships due to causes outside of work
- Ex: personal dislike because of past history
- Informational Differences
- Problems due to gap in information or knowledge regarding tasks
- Ex: unawareness of an urgent side project that is competing for resources
- Incompatible Roles
- Issues due to gap in role, assigned tasks, and team member skill or ability
- Ex: team member unable to fulfil their job description
- Environmental Stress
- Tensions due to external factors or pressures that are distracting
- Ex: impending layoffs due to cost cuts
There are 5 styles of conflict management:
- Collaborating: both parties work integratively to create win-win solutions
- Forcing: only cares about satisfying one’s own needs, even at the expense of others
- Avoiding: withdrawn perspective, does not want to confront the conflict, results in no outcome or situation getting worse with time
- Accommodating: neglect individual interests to satisfy the other party’s interests, results in decreased power and potential to get taken advantage of
- Compromising: both parties win some/lose some, results in sub-optimal solutions
All interdependent relationships will eventually face conflict, which arises from differences in goals and how to achieve those goals. When conflict is effectively managed, team members can perform better and relationships can be strengthened (Lewicki, Saunders, Barry, Tassa, 2014).
Collaborative Problem Solving Framework
- Establish subordinate goals
- Separate people from the problem (task)
- Focus on interests not positions
- Create options for mutual gains
- Use objective criteria for evaluating alternatives
- Define success by real gains not imaginary losses
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice(7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Lewicki, R. J., Saunders, D. M., Barry, B., & Tasa, K. (2014). Essentials of Negotiation. McGraw-Hill Ryerson.