What is a conflict?
An organization is a network consisting of human element as the major functional source and as such is prone to weaker vulnerable aspects of human psychology. Conflict is, of course, one such weak point.
The diverse functional groups in the organization get into conflicts while setting up objectives and goals; in prioritizing and weighing the objectives, the methods of their achievement and their evaluation. Though there are numerous kinds of conflicts, this is the major one affecting the functioning of the firm.
Organizational conflict, or workplace conflict, is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together. Conflict takes many forms in organizations.
Certain examples of conflicts:
Reasons for conflicts:
The Results of Conflict:
The most affected element in a group conflict is “Employee Morale.” Conflicts undermine professionalism and lead to under utilization of organizational capacity.
Loss of Importance: A particular group of employees feel that their importance is being undermined. When a manager is being inducted from an outside source, the prospective employees of the firm feel that they have been let down by the management.
Frustration: There are certain rules and regulations to be stuck to when issues arise. If the finance department is not consulted regarding issues related to insurance claims, there are chances that the company might lose a good deal. In such cases frustration arises which is not good for the health of the firm.
Feeling of Insecurity: This affects severely the morale of an employee. A clerical staff feels insecure if new technological system is introduced in the company where he is a novice. When one’s importance is persistently reduced, he may start feeling redundant.
Blocked Personal Growth: Persons who experience reduced importance may apprehend a situation where they don’t expect much by way of personal growth through increments and promotion.
Dysfunctional conflicts hinder the performance of a group and are destructive in nature. It has not been precisely defined, as to what criterion demarcates functional from the dysfunctional.
It is only the group’s performance and the delivered result or outcome that determines the nature of the conflict. Conflicts, irrespective of their type can bring these benefits to the firm:
Managers need to be alert to the presence of conflicts. Their focus should be oriented towards the goals to be accomplished. If there is a conflict, they should aim to resolve it smoothly by not over-reacting to the situation.
They should take the help of persons who can best settle the issue, be ready to bargain and not issue orders. Their concentration should be on the problem and not on persons.
True to the saying – Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?- President Abraham Lincoln
Conflicts are Functional and Healthy:
Conflicts in organisations are generally considered to be dysfunctional. On the contrary, many top executives of big companies view conflicts, as a means, to sufficiently analyse a problem and postpone decision making until all critical aspects of an issue are evaluated properly.
Conflicts may occur within the individual, between individuals, between the individual and the group or between groups.
There are many potential sources of conflict in today’s corporate organisations. The complex inter personal relationships and high degree of interdependence causes friction.
Difference of Opinion:
When many people must work together, conflict is inevitable, as it is human nature to clash and complain. Conflict is the personal divergence of interests between groups or individuals.
The need to share scarce resources, difference in goals between organisational units, difference in values, attitudes and perception, ambiguously defined work responsibilities are some of the major sources of conflict.
So, what kind of strategy do you think best suits in resolving conflicts? Avoiding or smoothing conflicts may be a temporary measure, only to bounce back in full force. Forcing might create undesirable consequences.
The only option left is to confront the situation, face-to-face meeting of the conflicting parties for the purpose of identifying the problem and resolving it through an open discussion.
Make Structural Changes to Lessen Conflicts:
By making structural changes, conflicts can be managed. The objectives of a group are modified and then integrated to suit the purpose. Also changes in the structure of the organization, that is, clarification of authority-responsibility relationship, improving the working atmosphere, ambience and work locations help in resolving conflicts.
Lack of proper communication, ego clashes between the people in line and staff positions, a superior’s autocratic leadership style, differing educational backgrounds, lack of co-ordination between inter-departments are all rich sources of conflict. These can be resolved with the right kind of attitudinal approach and an open mind from the management’s end.
Conflict need not necessarily be viewed as an evil but a disorder to be curbed. Sometimes a conflict might showcase the inherent inflexibility and malfunctions in the firm to be corrected paving way for innovations. Sometimes it causes frustration for the management by preventing synergy amongst the sub-systems.
All said and done, conflict once identified have to be immediately dealt with and resolved by the management in order to facilitate smooth functioning of the organization.