Skills for Managing Conflict in Organizations
Published 24 Apr 2017
Conflicts will always be a part of every organization because of the diversity and differing opinions and personalities of the members. There are conflicts which are not easily solved; and if conflicts are not resolved, it will cause disruption among the people. Thus, managers must have the right skills such as communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and negotiating skills to effectively manage conflict.
The workplace is an area where conflicts will tend to arise. In fact, it is a normal part of every organization. Along with everything else, managers are tasked to manage conflicts so that employees can become effective and satisfied with their jobs. The abovementioned skills are the right tools to address the problems at work. Although there is no single skill to effectively solve the problems, managers can implement a combination of these skills.
Communication is one of the keys to effectively manage conflict. There are some strategies that managers can implement create a more effective conflict management plan. One of these is through establishing and maintaining a healthy work environment. The quality of work environment affects the productivity and morale of the organization, and communication is very important to achieve a healthy work environment. In addition, there must be open communication so that each of the members can voice out his or her opinions in a constructive manner. To achieve this, there should also be trust and respect for each member of the organization (Higgerson, 1996, p. 3).
Communication skills include speaking, listening and asking questions. As communication is two-way, employees should realize the importance of speaking up so that managers would know what they think. In the same way, each person should know the importance of listening the way that everyone would want to be listened to.
Decision-making skills are dependent on a manager’s critical thinking skills. As not everyone can be a successful problem solver and judge, a manager can be a decision maker through his or her life experiences. Managers should also learn how to reason insightfully from different perspectives. Moreover, managers should endeavor to make quality decisions based from the evaluation of possible options (Marquis and Huston, 2008, pp. 4-5).
Before a problem becomes serious and get out of control, necessary actions must be taken. Managers must have the problem-solving skills which include setting goals and establishing procedures needed to achieve the goals. There are problems which are more difficult than some, and require multiple schemes to solve. In addition, managers should be efficient in recognizing the problem, creating or adapting a model that would fit the problem, creating plans to solve the problem, and performing the best option from the possible solutions (Proctor, 2005, p. 63).
The primary reason for negotiation is for both involved parties to reach an agreement that would prevent conflict from escalating (Masters and Albright, 2002, p. 103). Negotiation is usually performed by external third parties (Gramberg, 2005, p. 93). There are three reasons for conducting negotiation in workplace conflict. First, it is important to resolve a disagreement (Masters and Albright, 2002, p. 103). Second, negotiation facilitates agreement between parties which can prevent further conflict. Third, negotiation enables the organization to avoid any damaging consequence as a result of not giving the employees a chance to speak or an alternative to an unproductive behavior. Good negotiating skills can enable managers to prevent new conflicts from arising. As such, managers should consider the interests of the parties involved (Masters and Albright, 2002, p. 104).
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- Higgerson, M.L. (1996). Managing conflict. American Council on Education.
- Marquis, B.L. and Huston, C.J. (2008). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application. United States: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Masters, M.F. and Albright, R.R. (2002). The complete guide to conflict resolution in the workplace. United States: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.
- Proctor, T. (2005). Creative problem solving for managers. United States: Routledge.