Conflict is inevitable in a competitive environment as the competition is all about power or the ability to influence the others to accept their point of view as the best position. A leader has to just accept it for what it is and to recognize that addressing conflict is part of the job; it comes with the managerial territory. The more the team members debate on the issue, the more they disagree. The causes of conflict range from philosophical differences and divergent goals to power imbalances. Conflict Management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. Unmanaged or poorly managed conflict generates a breakdown in trust and lost productivity. The aim of conflict management is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in organizational setting. There are several different ways to manage conflict, such as avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise, and collaboration.
Avoidance conflict management style is a common way of dealing with conflict, simply an attempt to ignore the disagreement among competing team members. This might be due to unassertive leader who is afraid to hurt feelings by not accepting the better idea or he does not like the hassle of dealing with the challenge and difficulty of negotiation. Avoiding conflict can signal to the team that leader simply does not care enough about them to work through the issue. It can also allow for emotions to fester, making conflict worse. Of course, there are times where people need to cool off and take some time to think about the issue more, making it advantageous to temporarily use an avoidance conflict management style. Making the avoidance conflict management might be ineffective in many scenarios.
Accommodation conflict management style is where some team members try to end the conflict by giving in to the wishes of others. Those with a high need for approval tend to accommodate more. It also conveys to other members that they are a reasonable persons and willing to bend on team members’ position. This is showing humility rather than clinging on stubbornly to one’s position and admitting faults. Accommodation also has its disadvantages. Giving in too early can lead to bad decision making because the issues go, for the most part, unexamined. Many conflicts require time to discuss several possible solutions before choosing which one best solves the issue, accommodating is often done with little to no discussion of all potential solutions.
Competition conflict management style occurs when the objective is to win and to make the others lose, no matter the expense and this can be especially damaging. Competition is mostly about power or the ability to influence the other members to accept their point of view as the best position. While all members in this scenario are looking to see their idea implemented, only one of them can walk away satisfied if a competition style is used. Competition can create a hostile and defensive environment, making it difficult to reach an agreement. This could also negatively affect working relationship going forward among team members.
Compromise conflict management style attempts to resolve a conflict by finding a middle ground. The compromise is considered a lose strategy because, for each member to get something they want, they have to sacrifice something that they would prefer not to give up. Compromise is about a give-and-take where you win and lose simultaneously. Compromise may be needed where team cares about the end result of the conflict.
Collaborating conflict management style works by integrating ideas set out by multiple team members. The object is to find a creative solution acceptable to everyone. Collaboration, though useful, calls for a significant time commitment not appropriate to all conflicts but collaborative decision-making sometimes wastes time that can be better spent on other activities.
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