Conflict is an inevitable part of our workday life as different values and points of view can create tension among peers. Conflict is defined as the disagreement among two or more individuals, groups, or organizations. This disagreement may be relatively superficial or very strong (Ventrice, 2000) . It may be short-lived or exist for months or even years, and it may be work-related or personal.
In the Chinese society, traditional culture makes the people trying to avoid conflicts habitually. Furthermore, most Chinese enterprises do not encourage conflicts in the organization. Keeping peace is the only solution. As a result, it is easier to hide our anger than to address the problem directly. It is easier to dismiss the anger in others with, "They'll get over it sooner or later." The Chinese people are used to avoid or ignore the problem because they do not want to "stir up trouble" (Chen, 2001).
However, when we, the Chinese people, hide our anger, we tend to relive frustrating situations over and over in our heads, and see ourselves as victims (Wu, 2001). When we see ourselves as victims, we begin to look for ways to retaliate. "She didn't cover for me when I was out sick. She had better hope she doesn't get sick right before a crucial deadline!" Thus, when we ignore the small frustrations our coworkers have with us, those frustrations grow.
Hence, unspoken conflict destroys camaraderie, and cooperation, damages trust, and impairs work teams. It creates an uncomfortable workplace (Hart, 2000). Ironically, by avoiding confrontation, we create greater discord. As a manager, what you have to do is not to avoid conflict, but valid management conflict, make use of the different opinion of the conflict exhumation, stir up more creativities.
What Causes Workplace Conflict?
Conflict may manifest itself in a variety of ways. Conflict may arise in both interpersonal and intergroup relationships. Interpersonal conflict is when people's ideas, decisions or actions relating directly to the job are in opposition, or when two people just don't get along. Intergroup conflict is conflict occurs between two or more organizational groups. Occasionally, conflict between individual and groups may be caused by particular organizational strategies and practices (Hart, 2000). A third arena for conflict is between an organization and its environment.
However, I will be focusing on the interpersonal conflict and use the following story as an example for I will be providing my solutions to manage this conflict.
A usually calm and collected employee storms into his manager's office, and the manager is thrown into the middle of a conflict, without warning. Charles, normally a rational person, is shouting, "I can't believe you didn't do anything about Angela! She's been telling everyone that I have been stealing toilet paper! They are starting to refer to me as TP Guy. You should have put a stop to this a week ago! You can't even control your own employees. This is unbelievable!"
Understanding and Handling Conflict:
I think conflict is a powerful force in organizations, and has both negative and positive consequences. The best three methods I came up with for managers to manage conflicts are stimulation, controlling, and resolving and eliminating.
1. Stimulating conflict
In some situations, an organization may stimulate conflict by placing individual employees or groups in competitive situations. Managers can establish sales contests, incentive plans, bonuses, or other competitive stimuli to spark competition. Another useful method for stimulating conflict is to bring in one or more outsiders who will shake things up and present a new perspective on organizational practices. The last method is changing established procedures, especially procedures that have outlived their usefulness, can also stimulate conflict. Stimulating conflict can enhance some aspects of organizational performance, but this action...
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