Conflict is the existence of different opinions and no agreement is reached. It is a condition that arises whenever the perceived interest of an individual or a group clash with those of another individual or group in an organization. Conflict management is the art of identifying and resolving disputes amicably. Because workplace conflicts are inevitable, it is critical to have people who understand and can resolve them.
Forms of conflict
There are three Forms of conflict:
- Intrapersonal Conflict
- Interpersonal Conflict
- Intragroup conflict
- Intergroup Conflict
1. Intrapersonal Conflict
It occurs when an individual’s goals, values, or roles diverge. This is a conflict within one’s inner self. Intrapersonal role conflict can occur when a person’s supervisor or peers have conflicting expectations of them.
2. Interpersonal Conflict
Interpersonal conflict arises from differences in goals, values, and styles between two or more people who must interact. Individual conflicts can get very personal because they are between people.
Sources of Interpersonal Conflicts
- Organizational Change: Changes in technology, politics, and social factors can cause organizational conflict. People have differing views on the direction to take, the routes to take, the resources to use, and the likely outcomes.
- Personality Clashes: Personality differences can create conflicts in an organization and therefore employees need to accept, learn how to use these differences when they arise.
- Different sets of values: People have diverse beliefs and values. Their philosophies and values may lead to disagreements.
- Threats to status: The social rank of a person in a group is very important to many individuals when a person’s status is threatened; it becomes a powerful force and struggle for one to maintain a desired image. Conflict may arise between the defensive person and whoever created a threat to status.
- Lack of Trust: Trust is the capacity to depend on each other’s words and action. Every relationship requires some degree of trust. Trust opens up boundaries, provides opportunities in which to act, and enriches to the entire social fabric of an organization. It takes time to build trust, but it can be destroyed instantly.
3. Intergroup Conflicts
Intergroup conflict occurs when groups within or outside an organization disagree on issues. Intergroup conflict occurs when two groups within the same organization disagree. Those types of conflict can be horizontal (with peers) or vertical (with a manager or a subordinate).
Sources of inter-group conflict
- Aggressiveness nature of man: Man is aggressive in nature and seeks expression of his impulses. Some conflict in organization starts from the normal need of people to find outlet for their aggressive impulses.
- Competition for limited resources:Resources are scarce, groups in organization compete to win their share e.g. money, material etc.
- Clashes of values and interest:Value and interest differences cause conflict.
- Antagonistic roles:Inter-group conflict may arise because different groups occupy different roles that are apparently dependent to each other e.g. Accounts department whose role is to conserve and distribute organization money may conflict with marketing department whose role in promotion may require money in order to fund the promotion process.
- Power/political: Every group in organization may want to lead or be top of other groups this way rise to conflict in organizations.
- Poorly defined responsibilities: When job responsibilities are ambiguous, conflict may arise from disagreements above which groups have got certain responsibilities over certain task.
- Introduction of change: Organization change may bring in conflict e.g. organization may decide to merge with other organization. This may create conflict in the initial stages, power struggle, asset management, location etc.
4. Intragroup conflicts
Intragroup conflict occurs when an individual is pitted against a group and is unwilling or unable to conform to group dynamics.
Causes of conflict in organizations
- Resource competition and its basis.
- There is no respect for each other’s opinions and opinions of others.
- Lack of common values, commitment, enthusiasm, motivation, and morale
- Personal and professional treatment that is unjust, uneven, and unequal.
- Physical and psychological barriers, especially between superiors and subordinates, as well as between departments, divisions, and functions.
- Failure to live up to expectations and promises.
Consequences of conflicts in organizations
Conflict in organizations has both positive and negative impacts. Negative effects are caused by unresolved conflicts.
1. Positive Consequences
- Employees are encouraged to look for better ways to do things.
- It inspires them to be more creative and try new things.
- Once hidden issues are exposed, they can be effectively addressed.
- Individuals may be more committed to the outcome if they helped resolve the conflict.
- Strengthens intergroup bonds
- Assists in educating each other on problem-solving methods
- Clarifies issues that were unclear and the root cause of conflicts in the first place
2. Negative Consequences
- Interpersonal cooperation and teamwork may suffer.
- People who need to work together may grow distrustful.
- In addition, stress levels will rise.
- Some employees’ motivation will be reduced.
- Much time and resources will be spent resolving the conflict.
- Productivity will suffer
- Communication issues
- People tend to see themselves positively and the opposing group negatively..
Conflict management styles
- Negotiations: Parties getting together under an independent person, from within to negotiate their differences with a view to resolving the issue
- Mediation: Where a third party internal or external acts as a broker / peacemaker between the teams, seeing each party separately, puts forward proposals for the parties to get back to the negotiating table. Party to this route when all other avenues have been utilized and the disagreements is not yet solved. Where a third party listens to both parties, examines the evidence and then makes the decision on behalf of the groups. The final decision is usually favorable to one party and not the other
- Conflict Avoidance: Refusing to engage in conflict requires no courage or respect for the other party. By avoiding the conflict, you are essentially denying its existence. Pretending nothing is wrong, blocking or shutting down are all examples of avoidance or withdrawal.
- Giving in: Cooperation and courage are required to give in or accommodate the other party. In essence, you agree to accommodate the other party’s point of view or suggestion. To the other party, this style may appear permissive. While this style can lead to peace and progress, it can also lead to resentment from the accommodator.
- Standing your ground: While standing firm takes courage, it can also be rude. Standing your ground means you’ll do anything to win the battle. In reality, a competitive approach can be beneficial in the short term, but harmful in the long run.
- Compromising: Compromise is a big step toward peace. When seeking common ground, both parties use courage and consideration. Negotiating larger points and letting go of minor points speeds up the resolution process. Beware of passive-aggressive tactics used by the compromising party to mislead the other party.
- Collaborating: Collaboration is important in conflict resolution and takes courage and consideration. Collaboration involves listening to the other party, discussing common interests and goals, and clarifying communication. Collaboration requires creative problem solving without compromise. In general, collaborators are admired.