In particular, this paper outlines a study of the workplace setting and issues related to stress management, including attempts at reducing turnover rates and improving workplace burnout.
A diverse workforce, characterized by organizational drivers of change, is drawing attention to interpersonal conflicts among workers. Teams do not always work effectively, and change may not accomplish everything intended. “According to a recent Accountemps survey, executives spend more than nine weeks each year resolving personality clashes between employees.”(Brown 1). Such clashes undermine morale. Competition and complex communication barriers create conditions that generate the need for new training and employee development. “Conflict management is the ability to manage every-day situations that involve personal interactions involving difference of opinion. It differs from conflict resolution, where successful resolution means that the issue is totally resolved and finished.” (Brown 1).
Although it is common in international conflicts, mediation has been less successful inthat context than in most of the others. In a study of 78 international conflicts whichoccurred between 1945 and 1986, Jacob Bercovitch (1991) found that 56 were mediated, butthat most of those efforts were unsuccessful. He attributed this lack of success to anumber of factors. One, international conflicts tend to be very complex and highlyescalated, and involving high stakes. This makes negotiation (or by extension, mediation)very difficult. In addition, mediation tends to work best before conflicts become veryheated. At the same time, however, they have to become heated enough for the parties tofeel a need to resolve them. Thus, there is a very small space of time in which theconflict is ready or "ripe" for negotiation or mediation. If mediation is triedeither before this time, or afterwards, it is unlikely to succeed.
Most people have no interest in creating conflict with others. Most of us know enough about human behavior to distinguish between healthy communication and the words or actions that contribute to rocky relationships. It is in our interest to maintain relations which are smooth, flexible, and mutually enhancing. The problem occurs when we fail to use cooperative approaches consistently in our dealing with others. We seldom create conflict intentionally. We do it because we may not be aware of how our own behavior contributes to interpersonal problems. Sometimes we forget, or we are frustrated and annoyed, and sometimes we just have a bad day. At times we feel so exasperated that we focus on our own needs at the expense of others. And then we find ourselves in conflict.
This is a preliminary document so she wants you to keep it short: a brief discussion about what workplace conflict is, conflict policy, procedures for resolving conflict, and a proposed outline for training topics.
Often in organizations, separate business units may drive towards different goals. For example, the goal of a security controls department is to ensure the security of the corporation and its customers. This goal often affects performance and work output to other business units, such as one that focuses on generating revenue. As an executive or manager, it is imperative that goals be set at the corporate level and fully communicated to all areas of business. Jeff Weiss and Jonathan Hughes write, “One of the most effective ways senior managers can help resolve cross-unit conflict is by giving people the criteria for making trade-offs when the needs of different parts of the business are at odds with one another” (96). Therefore, if executives and managers communicate goals and criteria effectively, two things will happen in this scenario. First, business units will understand the basic role and importance of security. Second, security will understand how corporate decisions impact revenue. Clearly, management can overcome differences in goals through effective communication.
Mediation is one of several approaches to conflict resolution that uses a "thirdparty" intermediary to help the disputing parties resolve their conflict. Unlikearbitration, where the third party actually makes the decision about how the conflictshould be resolved, mediators only assist the parties in their efforts to formulate asolution of their own. Thus, mediators bring the parties together (or sometimes shuttlebetween them), help them describe the problem in terms of negotiable interests and needsrather than non-negotiable positions, and develop a set of ideas for how the interests andneeds of both sides can be met simultaneously. The mediator will then help the partiesassess the relative merits of the different options and draft an agreement that works bestto satisfy everyones interests. It is up to the parties, however, to decide whetherto accept the final agreement or not. While there may be considerable social pressure toagree to the settlement, if it does not meet the needs of a party as well as analternative approach might, that party is still free to reject the settlement and try analternative conflict resolution technique, be it litigation, direct action, an election,or war.
People adopt a number of different styles in facing conflict. First, it is very common to see a person or the existence of conflict. Unfortunately, in this case, the conflict often lingers in the background during interaction between the participants and creates the potential for further tension and even more conflict. A second response style is that of one person and the other person. This occurs when a person mistakenly equates conflict with anger. This stance does nothing to resolve the conflict and in fact only serves to increase the degree of friction between the two participants by amplifying defensiveness. A third way which some people use to resolve conflict is by using and to win at the others expense. They welcome conflict because it allows their competitive impulses to emerge, but they fail to understand that the conflict is not really resolved since the loser will continue to harbor resentment. Similarly, some people appear to compromise in resolving the conflict, but they subtly the other person in the process, and this, again, perpetuates the conflict between the two parties and compromises the trust between them. There are better ways to handle interpersonal conflict.
Conflict between people is a fact of life and its not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a relationship with frequent conflict may be healthier than one with no observable conflict. Conflicts occur at all levels of interaction at work, among friends, within families and between relationship partners. When conflict occurs, the relationship may be weakened or strengthened. Thus, conflict is a critical event in the course of a relationship. Conflict can cause resentment, hostility and perhaps the ending of the relationship. If it is handled well, however, conflict can be productive leading to deeper understanding, mutual respect and closeness. Whether a relationship is healthy or unhealthy depends not so much on the number of conflicts between participants, but on how the conflicts are resolved.
Large companies that manage conflict effectively employ several strategies, including negotiation, incrementalism, mediation, and effective communication. Michelle Maiese describes negotiation as “a discussion between two or more disputants who are trying to work out a solution to their problem” (1). Further, she indicates negotiation “can occur at a personal, corporate, or international (diplomatic) level.”