Conflicts in the organization and their overcoming
Methods for conflict resolution
The conflicts are inevitable in the work of an organization, as well as life. There are several definitions of conflicts, depending on how we see it. We can analyze the conflict from the aspect of behaviour of the participants in it, the sources of the conflict, the attitudes and feelings that occur. However, what unites them are the three basic components of the conflict:
- sides in the conflict
- conflict behaviour
- conflicted interests
The conflicts that occur in an organization are defined as disagreements between the group members or the groups within the organization, caused by several reasons, such as:
- mutual sharing of the resources and the working tasks (conflicts between management and the trade unions);
- a wish to dominate the environment with a status (conflict between an associate who wants to get promoted to a higher position and a manager who is against it);
- differences in objectives, values and ideas (between the managers on the same level when doing a more complex task mutually), etc.
The traditional understanding of the conflicts refers to the fact that one should avoid them and considers that the conflict which occurred is the managers mistake which can further lead to certain obstacles in the organization’s work. According to this notion, the conflicts should be eliminated. However, if a conflict situation somehow occurs in the organization, the manager should eliminate it as quickly as possible.
As opposed to the traditional understanding of the conflicts, there is a new, interactive approach which points to their inevitability in an organizational system. The conflict may as well be productive and lead to work promotion, and the manager’s task is to deal with it and resolve it in an optimal way for the organization. The optimal work realization requires a conflict on moderate level as it is often a means for attaining organizational changes and innovations.
Regarding the work realization, the conflicts should be maintained on optimal level, which means, they should be controlled and encouraged provided they lead towards promoting the work realization. In private lives, we can react according to our personal beliefs and values. In the conflict situations in our organization, especially if we have a managing position, we must be able to manage the conflicts efficiently and make the best of them for the organization.
Since the conflicts are to a great extent one of the basic elements that stop the organization’s efficiency, it is necessary to be able to deal with tem, that is to resolve them successfully.
When the manager finds himself/herself in a conflict situation, they try to act in a way that he/she resolves the situation. The activities they take depend on their beliefs and attitudes regarding conflicts in general.
For this purpose, there are five basic ways (methods) for conflict resolution. They are: opposing, cooperation, compromise, avoiding, and adjusting. The method the manager chooses to resolve the conflict depends on his/her psychological profile. Nevertheless, there are situations when it is more acceptable to react in one or the other way. For example, in emergencies, when the situation requires making quick decisions, or the issue discussed is trivial, one can react by opposing.
Trainer/project associate at the MCIC
Conflict is a process that starts when one group realizes that the other group hurts, or is about to start hurting some of its interests.
Most common conflict reasons are: differences in goals, differences in the approach (methods), interdependence when doing the tasks, differences in the criteria for working and the ways of paying, differences in the status, unclear competence, lack of resources, lack of communication, differences in the value systems, organizational ambiguities.