Three Types of Conflict Management that Work

Workplace conflict is commonplace, but managers who can incorporate certain types of conflict management strategies that work will soon be able to achieve their goals and minimize disruptions. Managers will successfully eliminate conflicts and turn the situation into a problem-solving opportunity that will ultimately benefit the entire office.

Collaboration: This conflict management strategy is considered one of the most successful, but it needs the right environment to work. The idea is that both sides work together in a spirit of teamwork to reach goals and preserve relationships. It works best when there is a long-term business relationship in place and the common goals are what is best for the company.

An example of a collaborative conflict management strategy is this: Employees are notified that the company health care insurance policy will change and there are meetings held to review and choose a new plan. Some want a plan that offers a lower deductible with more limited options, while others seek a more comprehensive plan with a higher deductible. Collaborating allows employees to choose the plan that best suits the company as a whole.

Compromise: This strategy requires both sides to give up something to gain something they feel is greater. It is best utilized in a situation where both sides are fairly equal in status and neither side puts forward too many demands. Ultimately, the solutions put in place cannot be in direct opposition to the long-term goals of the group or company.

An example of compromise conflict management is: One group of employees is outraged that their work is made harder because of something that another group is failing to do. Both parties feel the duty belongs to the other. A compromise would allow both parties to restructure the flow of work and agree to take on shared aspects of the duty so neither side is overburdened.

Force: This is a type of conflict management strategy that is effective in certain situations where time and decision-making abilities are most important. This situation works best when there is a formal authority that can be exercised or a conflict is potentially destructive or disruptive to the company. It can have drawbacks, as this method rarely addresses the concerns of the other party. However, many managers use this style to cease hostilities and end nonproductive behavior. Then they can revisit and resolve the underlying issues at a later time.

An example of force conflict management is: Workers who use some expensive heavy-duty machinery have figured out a way to affect the performance of the machinery in an untested and unproven way. When the workaround is brought to management's attention, the manager demonstrates how the action puts the company in non-compliance and the practice will not be tolerated. Employees insist that it makes the job easier and they are willing to take the risks. The manager makes it a policy that any employee caught performing the workaround will be disciplined.

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When conflict management styles clash, mixed messages are sent, and the situation may not be resolved in the most effective and timely manner. Tensions can be heightened, not resolved, but it doesn't have to be that way.

When faced with employee conflict, managers can implement several of the following tips and strategies for the most satisfactory resolutions.

You can follow several conflict resolution tips to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to the problem when you are witnessing conflict at work, whether as upper management or as a co-worker.

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