As a natural part of human relations, conflict is commonplace in the working environment, regardless of an organisation’s culture or size. Yet, in many organisations, it is often overlooked or ignored due to the negative connotation or ‘traditional view’ which leads many to believe that avoidance is a sensible solution.
In support of Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, we believe it is important to recognise how conflict can affect an organisation and how if approached correctly, can be used as a positive force.
The definition of conflict according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary :
1: fight, battle, war <an armed conflict>
2: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b : mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands
3: the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction
Dysfunctional Conflict – Organizational Behaviour Fifth Edition by Stephen P. Robbins
The destructive consequences of conflict upon a group or organizations performance are generally well known. A reasonable summary might state: Uncontrolled opposition breeds discontent, which acts to dissolve common ties and eventually leads to the destruction of the group. …. Among the more undesirable consequences are a retarding of communication, reductions in group cohesiveness, and subordination of group goals to the primacy of infighting between members.
Constructive Conflict – Organizational Behaviour Fifth Edition by Stephen P. Robbins
Conflict is constructive when it improves the quality of decisions, stimulates creativity and innovation, encourages interest and curiosity among group members, provides the medium through which problems can be aired and tensions released, and fosters an environment of self evaluation and change.
Wikipedia describes conflict management as ‘the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict management being to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in organizational settings (Rahim, 2002, p. 208).’
There are various techniques to managing conflict within the workplace and the correct approach will depend on the type and level of conflict experienced.
In order to ensure that you effectively manage and / or resolve conflict, partner with Human Resources who will be able to assist, advise and guide you in the correct approaches.