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Methods of Handing Organisational Conflicts

Last Updated : 28 Jul, 2023
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Organisational conflicts occur when people or groups within an organisation have disagreements or differences that make it difficult for them to work together. These conflicts can happen because of things, like different opinions, values, or goals. For example, one group may prioritize saving money while another wants to invest in new technology. These conflicts can cause tension and problems within the organisation. Organisations need to recognize that conflicts are a normal part of working together, but they need to be managed properly. If conflicts are left unresolved or ignored, they can lead to lower morale, decreased productivity, and even the failure of the organisation. Organisations can find solutions that benefit everyone involved by addressing conflicts positively and proactively.


Methods of Handling Conflicts

There are various strategies for effectively managing conflicts, promoting constructive interactions, and minimizing negative outcomes. These strategies can be broadly categorized into three approaches:

  • Conflict Stimulation
  • Conflict Prevention
  • Conflict Resolution

Conflict Stimulation

To cultivate a constructive level of conflict within an organisation, various approaches can be implemented. These strategies aim to foster an environment that encourages healthy debate and innovation while avoiding detrimental conflicts. The following methods can be utilized to stimulate constructive conflict:

  1. Organisational Restructuring: Implementing changes in the organisational structure can effectively stimulate conflict. By reorganizing work groups and departments, new roles and responsibilities emerge, prompting members to adapt and potentially develop more efficient operational methods.
  2. Effective Communication: Skillful manipulation of messages by managers can be employed to stimulate constructive conflict. Thoughtfully crafted ambiguous or thought-provoking messages, such as discussing potential departmental changes, can spark engagement, encourage fresh ideas, and prompt a reevaluation of existing practices. Leveraging informal communication channels and strategically introducing rumours can also contribute to conflict stimulation. Altering communication channels and redirecting messages can further facilitate the constructive exchange of differing viewpoints.
  3. Encouraging Healthy Competition: Creating an environment that fosters healthy competition among individuals or groups can promote constructive conflict. By offering well-designed incentives such as performance-based bonuses and recognition for outstanding achievements, a competitive spirit can be instilled within the organisation. As groups strive to outperform one another, constructive conflict emerges, driving innovation and growth.
  4. Embracing Diversity: Introducing individuals with diverse attitudes, values, and perspectives into the organisation can be an effective method to stimulate constructive conflict. By bringing in outsiders who challenge the prevailing norms and status quo, fresh ideas, alternative viewpoints, and innovative solutions can be fostered. This diversity of thought fuels constructive conflict, leading to enhanced creativity and problem-solving capabilities.

Conflict Prevention

Proactive measures can be taken to prevent conflicts within organisations and cultivate a positive and harmonious work environment. By employing the following strategies, conflicts can be minimized or avoided altogether:

  1. Establishing Mutually Agreed Goals: Conflicts often arise due to differences in goals among individuals or departments. To prevent such conflicts, organisations should strive to establish goals that are agreed upon by all parties involved. Additionally, emphasizing the concept of superordinate goals, which are common objectives that require collective efforts and cannot be achieved by any single party alone, can foster cooperation and reduce conflicts. When faced with a shared goal or a common threat that surpasses individual interests, conflicting parties are more likely to set aside their differences and work together.
  2. Reducing Interdependence: Conflict potential increases when departments rely heavily on each other for resources or work interdependently. To mitigate this, organisations can aim to reduce interdependence among departments. This can be achieved by providing each department with independent resources and structuring departments that share similar resources to work closely together. By minimizing the need for resource sharing and competition, conflicts arising from resource scarcity can be minimized.
  3. Encouraging Employee Exchange Programs: Promoting the rotation of employees between interdependent departments can enhance perception and mutual understanding. By allowing employees to gain exposure to different perspectives and facilitating exchanges of views, narrow departmental loyalties and misunderstandings can be mitigated. Employees develop a broader understanding of the organisation as a whole, fostering a culture of empathy, consideration, and cooperation.
  4. Appointing Liaison Groups or Integrators: Designating neutral intermediaries, such as liaison officers or integrators, who are acceptable to the conflicting parties can effectively mediate and arbitrate conflicts. These individuals, with no vested interest in the conflict, can facilitate open communication and bridge the gap between the conflicting groups. By encouraging dialogue, promoting collaboration, and guiding the parties toward mutually agreeable solutions, conflicts can be resolved constructively. In some cases, engaging third-party consultants may also be beneficial in facilitating attitude changes and reducing conflict.
  5. Seeking Higher Authority Intervention: When conflicts cannot be resolved through direct negotiations between the involved parties, it may be necessary to escalate the matter to a higher authority. By appealing to a superior position with the authority to make binding decisions, the conflicting parties can be encouraged to engage in meaningful dialogue and find a resolution under the guidance of the higher authority.

Conflict Resolution

When conflicts arise despite preventive measures, it becomes essential to employ effective strategies to resolve them constructively and amicably. The following approaches can be utilized for conflict resolution:

  1. Problem-Solving: Bring the conflicting parties together to talk about the issue and find a solution. Share information, listen to each other, and look for common ground. By working together, you can resolve conflicts caused by misunderstandings.
  2. Smoothing: Focus on what you have in common rather than your differences. Talk about your opinions and try to understand each other better. This approach can help reduce tension when there are strong emotions involved, but remember that it’s only a temporary solution.
  3. Compromise: Find a middle ground by negotiating and making concessions. Both parties give up something to reach an agreement that works for everyone. This method is useful when conflicts arise from different goals or values.
  4. Dominance or Confrontation: Parties try to win over each other using their strength and taking advantage of weaknesses. They may argue or fight to get their way. However, this approach often makes the conflict worse and doesn’t lead to long-term solutions.
  5. Avoidance: Sometimes, it’s best to step away from the conflict to prevent further escalation. Instead of wasting time on arguments, parties disengage from the situation. However, this doesn’t solve the conflict, it just keeps the parties apart.
  6. Superordinate Goals: Focus on a shared goal that requires cooperation from everyone involved. By working towards a common objective, parties can set aside their differences. Problem-solving and compromise are the most effective ways to address the underlying issues.

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