More from Chapter 6 on Motivation. Here I discuss conflict and resistance.
B. Resistance and Conflicts
1. Identifying Conflict and Resistance
Often the most challenging aspect of a leader’s job is to identify and clarify conflicts in the workplace. Good communication techniques are useful for identifying conflicts.
Conflict is the process in which one individual or group perceives that another individual or group negatively affects their interests. Conflict does not require the involvement of two people, nor is it necessarily founded in reality based on actual circumstances. One person may be in conflict with another, without the second person even realizing it or being at fault. As a leader/manager, it is important to identify and resolve conflict before it affects personal and organizational functioning and effectiveness.
a. Identifying Conflicts.
Leader/managers should investigate conflicts to understand the nature and source of the conflict. Leader/managers can resolve work related conflicts, such as conflicts in roles and responsibilities by clarifying those roles and responsibilities. Conflicts could be the result of bullying, racism, harassment, other misconduct and leaders should handle it accordingly.
Conflicts are either work-based or individual-based such as personality differences, annoyances, and tension. Work-based conflicts can be beneficial to organizations resulting in improved decision-making, elimination of redundancies, and increased commitment. However, individual-based conflicts can result in lower morale and effectiveness of the individuals as well as the organization.
Psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart, in separate articles in 2000 and 2002, identified eight common workplace conflicts. They are:
-Different personal values.
These classifications help to narrow the possible causes of conflict and the resolution. Once identified a copnflict resolution strategy is necessary resolve the conflict.
(1). Conflicting Resources
Leader/managers must allocate resources in a fair manner and explain the decision to associates. Usually, communications is the key. Leaders may want to allow associates to negotiate with
one another to prevent or to resolve conflicts.
(2). Conflicting Styles
People are different and have different work styles. Leader/manager need to consider individual work style when building teams.
(3). Conflicting Perceptions
When associates have different and conflicting perceptions, it is usually cause by a lack of communications on the part of the leader/manager. If this conflict arises, increased communications is the solution. This includes sharing bad news as well. Being honest about the news will kill most rumors and misperceptions.
(4). Conflicting Goals
When leaders do not clarify goals for associates, it creates conflict. More open communications about goals will normally resolve this conflict.
(5). Conflicting Pressures
Leader/manager can resolve conflicting pressures, which usually involve urgent deadlines.
Leaders establish priorities so that associates know what is important and what has priority.
(6). Conflicting Roles
Conflicting roles are similar to conflicting goals or conflicting perceptions and are resolved in a similar fashion. Conflicting roles may cause turf battles as associates step out of their normal role and cross over into another’s territory. Once again, more communication is required.
(7). Different Personal Values
Conflicts that involve personal value can be tough to resolve. Leader/managers should try
not to ask associates to do anything that clash with their personal values.
(8). Unpredictable Policies
When leaders fail to communicate rule changes in advance, misperceptions can result. The same may happens when leaders do not apply the rules or policies fairly and equally. More communications is the key to resolution.
b. Identifying Resistance
Diagnosis of the nature of the relationship and cause of opposition should be a leaders/manager’s first response to resistance. Leader/managers should consider the nature of the relationship and degree of good will. If a negative rapport exists, resistance may show a lack of trust and need additional effort to establish a positive relationship. If a positive relationship exists, then
resistance may reflect different interests or perceived pressure on well-being or autonomy.