Thursday, February 27, 2014

Conflict Management Styles 4

In the last byte, we looked at when three of the conflict management styles could be used. In today's byte, we look at the apt situation when the remaining two of the styles could be used.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conflict Management Styles 3

In the last byte, we discussed what each of the conflict management styles meant. In today's byte, we look at when three of the types of conflict management styles could be used. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Conflict Management Styles 2

In the last byte, we looked at diagrammatically understanding the positioning of various conflict management styles.  In today's byte, we look at each of these styles in a bit more detail:

Avoiding: Is a style low on both assertiveness and cooperativeness. It is a deliberate decision to take no action on a conflict or to stay out of conflict situation. 

Accommodating: Is a style in which you are concerned that the other party's goals be met but relatively unconcerned with getting your own way is called accommodating. It is cooperative but unassertive.

Competing: Is a style that is very assertive and uncooperative - one party may want to satisfy your own interests and are willing to do so at the other's expenses.

Compromising: Is intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness, because each party must give up something to reach solution to the conflict - it is often made in the final hours when time is of essence.

Collaborating: Is a win-win style that is high on both assertiveness and cooperativeness. Working towards collaborating involves an open and thorough discussion of the conflict and arriving at a solution that is satisfactory to both parties.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Conflict Management Styles

In the last byte, we looked at how confronting and negotiating could help effectively resolve conflicts. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on Conflict Management Styles.
Managers have at their disposal a variety of conflict management styles: avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising and collaborating. We could represent these on a matrix as indicated below:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Effective Conflict Management Technique 5

In the last byte, we looked at how confronting and negotiating could be used as effective mechanisms to resolve conflicts. In today's byte, we look at the concept of distributive bargaining and integrative negotiating.

Distributive Bargaining is a negotiating approach in which the goals of the parties are in conflict, and each party seeks to maximize its resources.
Resources are generally limited and each party wants to maximize its share of the resources, and appears as a win-loose approach to negotiations. If a negotiator wants to maximize the value of a single deal and is not worried about good relationship with the other party, distributive bargaining may be an option.
Integrative Negotiation is a negotiation approach that focuses on the merits of the issues and seeks a win-win solution.
This approach focuses on the merits of the issue and attempts to reach a win-win approach. For this attempt to be successful, one has to have faith in one's own problem-solving ability, a belief in the validity of the other party's position, mutual trust and clear communication.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Effective Conflict Management Technique 4

In the last byte, we looked how changing the structure of an organization could help reduce conflicts effectively. In today's byte, we look at how confronting and negotiation help reduce conflicts.

Some conflicts mandate the use of confrontation and negotiation between parties. Both these strategies need a skillful negotiator and require careful planning when engaging in negotiations. Open discussion is necessary for in these situations and the attempt is to reach towards a mutually beneficial solution.
Negotiation is a joint process of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict under consideration. It has been found to be most useful under the following conditions:
  • There are two or more processes (it is an interpersonal or intergroup process)
  • The conflict is the result of what one party wants is not what the other party wants
  • The parties are willing to negotiate because each believes it can use its influence to obtain a better outcome thanks simply aligning to another parties’ side
  • The parties prefer to work together rather than fight openly, or yield or break off contact etc.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Effective Conflict Management Technique 3

In the last byte, we discussed about some of the effective techniques to resolve conflict. In today's byte, we look at how changing organization structure could assist in resolving conflict effectively.

There are many ways to change the structure in an organization and thereby reduce conflict:
  • Use of the integrators' role:  An integrator is a liaison between groups with very different interests - if this integrator is a neutral third part, it would help disperse even severe conflicts. This is a way of opening dialogue between groups that have difficulty in communicating.
  • Use of Cross functional teams: The traditional method of new product design involved many departments contributing and this created delays due to coordination. The use of cross functional teams reduces delays and by allowing many activities to be performed at the same time instead of sequential execution.
    Also the team approach allows members from different departments to work together and reduce the potential for conflict. Team work helps break the larger tasks into smaller, less complex tasks - this helps reduce conflict, and organizations can potentially improve the performance over the overall team by improving the outcomes in each sub team.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Effective Conflict Management Technique 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion on effective conflict management techniques. Today, we continue the discussion ahead, with a discussion on the following approaches- superordinate goals, expanding resources and changing personnel.

Superordinate Goals: In an organizational context, noting that the organizational goal to be more important to both the parties involved in conflict - and thereby making the individual or group goals subordinate - is found to be extremely effective.
Appealing to the superordinate goal - to get the parties to focus on larger issues on which they both agree. This helps them realize their similarities rather than their differences.

Expanding Resources: Overlooking a conflict, could be an effective conflict resolution technique. Often scarce resources that are for common use lead to conflicts - expanding the resources could reduce conflicts. 

Changing Personnel: Often we do not dissociate people from the idea/issue and so specific individuals could be a reason the conflict persists. Separating the people from the situation in case one could identify them specifically to an individual could be used to solve the conflict by eliminating the person from the scenario.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Effective Conflict Management Technique

In the last byte, we looked at some ineffective techniques in managing conflicts. In today's byte, we look at some techniques that have been found to be effective.

It is not that all techniques to manage conflict are ineffective. There exists some effective conflict management technique and here is a list of few:
  1. Superordinate Goals
  2. Expanding resources
  3. Changing Personnel
  4. Changing Structure
  5. Confronting and Negotiating
It would be apt to get into this discussion a bit deeper and we shall do it over the next few blogs.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ineffective Conflict Management Techniques

In the last byte, we began our discussion on conflict management strategies and techniques that could be adopted. In today's byte, we discuss briefly about ineffective techniques. 

We begin with listing these ineffective techniques and what they indicate:
  1. Nonaction - doing nothing in hopes that a conflict will disappear
  2. Secrecy - attempting to hide a conflict or an issue that has the potential to create conflict
  3. Administrative Orbiting - delaying action on a conflict by buying time
  4. Due process nonaction - A procedure set up to address conflict that is so costly, time consuming, or personally risky that no one will use it.
  5. Character Assassination - An attempt to label or discredit an opponent.
Of the above, is has been noticed that nonaction is not a good technique, and that conflicts don't go away, but the people involved react with frustration. Similarly, administrative orbiting could also lead to frustration and resentment. Secrecy on the other hand could be seen as leading towards political activity by employees who hope to uncover the secret. Character assassination could backfire and make the individual who uses it appear dishonest and cruel.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Conflict Management Strategies

In the last byte, we looked at the withdrawal response as defensive mechanism. In today's byte, begin our discussion on conflict management strategies and techniques. 

To understand let’s begin with two situations to understand the discussion:

Situation 1: Two departments of an organization let’s assume an insurance company - sales department and claims team. If these two departments are in conflict with each other over a budget allocation, the claims manager could ask for a cut in sales training staff, while the sales department could look for a cut in the claims personnel. In such a conflict situation which emerges to be dysfunctional it is the organization that looses overall.

Situation 2: The two departments choose to have a functional approach and eventually decide to cut a minimum number of members in each of the departments and this could prove to be a better situation for an organization.

Situation 1 is indicative of a competitive approach to conflict management while the second situation is indicative of cooperative approach. The competitive approach is based on the assumption of a win-lose situation and could include the following - a dishonest communication, mistrust, and a rigid position. The cooperative approach is based on the possibility of a win-win situational and includes openness, honest communication, trust and most importantly a belief that whole might be much greater than the sum of parts.