How Much Conflict are You Likely to Have?
Posted by Louellen Essex on February 13, 2014 in Communication, Managing Difficult Situations, Team Development
Many conditions, which can promote or inhibit effective conflict management, exist in every organization. The best leaders employ a carefully thought-out set of practices to ensure the work units they lead are successful when managing differences. By answering the following questions with yes, somewhat, or no, you can determine how likely your work unit is to effectively manage conflict.
1. In your work unit, is conflict treated as a permissible, resolvable difference of opinion?
2. When staff members experience conflict, does a specific process exist for managing it?
3. Do managers have the ability to effectively mediate conflict?
4. Is open debate encouraged when important work unit issues are addressed?
5. Do staff members at all levels have good conflict management skills?
6. Are staff members’ proposed solutions implemented whenever possible?
7. Are staff members willing to collaborate with each other rather than protect their own domains?
8. Are employees generally solution-oriented and optimistic rather than problem-focused and negative?
9. When work unit conflict appears to be accelerating, is a group meeting scheduled to clear the air?
10. Does management serve as a role model of good conflict management skills?
Add the number of times you gave each response. Give yourself 3 points for each time you responded Yes, 2 points for each time you responded Somewhat, and 1 point for each time you responded No. Then, add the three numbers. Here’s what your total suggests:
26-30 Your work unit is in excellent condition to handle conflict effectively. Conflicts are unlikely to accelerate and cause ongoing difficulty. You are in a great position to capture the benefits of productive conflict resolution.
21-25 Your work unit has a good start toward managing conflict effectively, but attention should be paid to refining existing practices to reduce the risk of negative backlash from conflict situations.
16-20 Your work unit has “flickers” of good conflict management practices, but conflicts will continue to accelerate and most likely become difficult to manage unless you quickly develop a plan for improving your conflict management practices
Below 16 Your work unit is like dynamite about to explode! It is in a reactive mode with few guidelines or structure to manage what must seem like a continual crisis. Move at once to develop improved processes and train staff in conflict management techniques.
Conflict in organizations in inevitable. Your goal shouldn’t be to get rid of conflict, but, rather, to handle it in a manner that captures the gains it can bring: better relationships, new ideas, and an open communication environment that generates trust.