Building a team environment that relies on the talents and insights of many employees can facilitate business growth and innovation; however, a team environment also creates the potential for conflict. If not managed properly, conflict can decrease motivation and productivity and can even hamper your company’s efforts to become an industry leader. As a manager, studying and implementing one or more conflict management style will help you minimize conflict in your workplace and give your company the best opportunity for business success.
Sources of Workplace Conflict
In most cases, conflict does not arise from a single source within your organization. There are numerous potential sources of workplace conflict, including:
- Disparate work styles. Some employees might be most productive in a quiet, isolated setting, while others might work more efficiently in a noisy, social environment. Other aspects of differing work styles, such as process organization and communication preferences, can also heighten the potential for conflict.
- Conflicting goals. Employees who do not share the same goal commonly create conflict over resources, priority, and other project elements.
- Personal values. Conflict can stem from differing values among team members. Because values are deeply rooted, value-based conflict can be particularly difficult to resolve.
Accepting that conflict is an inevitable part of work life gives you the opportunity to use disagreements as opportunities for personal and professional growth. By using conflict to create a productive work environment, you can become a more effective leader for your team. There are numerous courses available to help you manage change.
Common Conflict Management Styles
Each manager has his own default method for handling conflict in the workplace. Understanding these five predominant conflict management styles, defined in the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, can help you assess and refine your own approach toward minimizing the effect of conflict among your team members:
- Compromise. This approach to conflict gives each person some, but not all, of what she wants. This is commonly referred to as a “lose-lose” approach because no party to the conflict truly achieves her personal goals. Compromise might help ease tension among team members because each person’s desires are partially fulfilled; however, it typically does not provide the most effective overall solution for meeting company goals. This style can be appropriate when each party’s goals are similar in importance.
- Competition. In essence, the competition style of conflict management involves fulfilling the needs of one party to the exclusion of others. This approach requires managerial assertiveness and support from team members. A conflict style of conflict management is appropriate for situations in which rapid, decisive action is needed to keep a project on track.
- Accommodation. The accommodation style of conflict management involves fulfilling the needs of others at the expense of your own needs and goals. This approach can help preserve relationships with employees and facilitate future team cooperation.
- Avoidance. This conflict management style simply involves avoiding the conflict without supporting your own needs or those of your employees. Avoidance is typically not an effective strategy except in cases involving trivial disputes that are not likely to compromise company goals.
- Collaboration. The collaboration style involves working with parties to the conflict to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. This “win-win” approach can help improve morale and reduce tension by emphasizing the value of each employee’s viewpoint. Collaboration can foster innovation and teamwork; however, it can take considerable time and effort to reach an effective solution.
Comparing your default conflict management style to these five primary styles gives you the awareness necessary to explore alternative approaches and promote harmony in your work environment. You can learn improve conflict management and other business strategies through Udemy’s streamlined, engaging courses, such as Operations Management.