Conflict Management Protocols In Management - The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

Conflict Management Protocols In Management

Conflict Management

In this two part post I look at a paper published earlier this year which looks at how to deal with conflict in organisations.

Part 1

Conflict management protocols

Types of conflict and where they’re likely to emerge

Five types of conflict

Good conflict / bad conflict

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In almost all organizations there will be a level of natural and inherent conflict. Conflict is a natural part of human existence.

People have different perspectives and different ideas and sometimes those ideas and perspectives change or create conflict. At some level, particularly in creative environments the tension provided by conflict is a good thing as it provides the spark for the creativity. However, conflicts can get out of hand if those on the different sides of the conflict become entrenched in their views and treat the conflict as a problem, rather than the basis for creativity. This then can impact on the organization as a whole. A happy organization is a productive one, and so the opposite is also largely true – the unhappy organization can be and often is unproductive and things like staff turnover increases, which in turn increases cost.

Conflict management protocols

A paper just published in International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management looked at the case of a bank and found that ‘conflict management protocols’ can help to prevent conflict becoming problematic.

Types of conflict and where they’re likely to emerge

The authors identified three situations where conflict is most likely to arise:

  1. Change. This is unsettling to all involved in the process and can cause ructions in an organization.
  2. Conflicting goals and objectives with different values and priorities
  3. Limited resources. Where bodies within the organization are competing for the same resources this can lead to problems arising.

Five types of conflict

The authors also identified five types of conflict within an institution:

  1. Structural conflict or conflict arising out of the need to manage the interdependence and flow of work between different organizational sub-units.
  2. Role conflict, which is conflict arising from sets of behaviours prescribed by the organization or the culture and the behaviours needed to actually get the job done
  3. Resources conflict, resulting from competition for limited resources.
  4. Communicational conflict, where misunderstandings arise between parties
  5. Personal conflict, meaning interpersonal conflict which arises from things like conflicting personalities or conflicts in values or beliefs.

Good conflict / bad conflict

Certain types of conflict are productive, for example challenging poor behaviour or each other’s ideas for example can help to prevent failure. Additionally conflict within a buzzing organization full of creativity where people disagree over how to achieve similar aims helps keep people sharp.

However when conflict starts to cause turbulence and negative behaviours like avoidance or aggression for example, then the conflict needs managing.

Conflict management means implementing strategies to limit the negative aspects of conflict and to increase the positive aspects of conflict.

The next post looks at what this study says about resolving conflict in organisations and how to develop great conflict management protocols that work.



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David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page