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Managing Conflict

Conflict Management

Conflict management is a part and parcel of a manager’s work profile.

As an effective manager it is important to know how to see when it’s coming and deal with it in an amicable way.

 

What is conflict?

Conflict may be defined as friction between individuals due to differences of opinions, ideas, beliefs, values, needs or objectives.

 

Types of conflict

  • Conflict between individuals

Colleagues

Employees and their managers

  • Conflict between groups involving:

Teams

Large groups of employees and management

 

What are the symptoms of Conflict?

Though you can’t stop conflicts altogether, you can look for symptoms that tell you what is brewing up.

Here’s the list of some of the commonly seen symptoms amongst team members or employees:

  • motivation drops
  • behavior changes
  • productivity falls
  • absence increases
  • responses to surveys

 

So, what causes these conflicts? 

There are many reasons for this.

Some of the frequent causes are listed here:

  • Poor management
  • Unfair treatment
  • Unclear job roles
  • Inadequate training
  • Poor communications
  • Poor work environment
  • Lack of equal opportunities
  • Bullying and harassment

 

So what triggers the conflicts?

Here’s the list of common contributors to conflict in a team.

  • Ambiguous roles and responsibilities
  • Assumptions and expectations
  • Core values not being met
  • Differing personal lenses and filters through which co-workers interpret the world
  • Emotions hijacking conversations
  • Group dynamics such as gossip and cliques
  • Miscommunication or vague language

 

Conflicts and Personal Traits

It is not just the environment, even certain people’s behavior as listed below can lead to conflicts.

  • Taking credit for other people’s work or ideas
  • Talking over people in meetings
  • Not inviting team members to team social evenings or events
  • Not taking messages for people
  • Using someone else’s contacts or customer/client information without permission
  • Not including people in  round-robin emails
  • Ignoring people or being discourteous
  • Poor personal hygiene

 

How to respond to Conflict?

So you have a conflict in your team or start-up. How do you deal with it?

There are four different styles of responses to conflicts.

  • Fight

You react to the conflict in a challenging way.

 

Example response

“Two heads are better than one”

 

  • Flight

You turn your back on what’s going on.

 

Example response

“I’ll think about it tomorrow”

 

  • Freeze

You are not sure how to react.

 

Example response

“I’ll think about it tomorrow”

 

  • Face it

You approach the problem in a calm and rational way with a planned approach.

 

Example

“It would be my pleasure”

“Let’s make a deal”

Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages.

As a manager you need to assess your problem scenario and adapt to the style that suits your situation the best.

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