TMA World Viewpoint 37: How To Resolve Conflict In The Workplace

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A conflict can be used as an asset, however this is dependent on the clash being handled with a constructive mindset.

This TMA World presentation outlines how to successfully resolve conflict to ensure a positive outcome for your organization.

For more information on successfully managing conflict and other skills you and your organization need to thrive in the borderless workplace, contact us today: enquiries@tmaworld.com

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TMA World Viewpoint 37: How To Resolve Conflict In The Workplace

  1. 1. How to resolve conflict in the workplace
  2. 2. How to resolve conflict in the workplace Let’s cut to the chase. Conflict is an inevitable part of life. We either cause it or are victims of it. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 2
  3. 3. How to resolve conflict in the workplace Whether it’s at home or in the workplace, conflict can erode relationships, spread to others who were not originally part of the conflicting situation and cause so much disharmony, that business is adversely affected. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 3
  4. 4. How to resolve conflict in the workplace Let me shoot some facts at you, which will hopefully whet your appetite to know how to tackle conflict head-on 1 2 © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Unresolved conflict represents the largest reducible cost in many businesses, yet it remains largely unrecognized The total value of lost work time due to stress is estimated to be $1.7 billion 4
  5. 5. How to resolve conflict in the workplace Chronic unresolved conflict acts as a decisive factor in at least 50% of departures. 3 4 Conflict accounts for up to 90% of involuntary departures, with the possible exception of staff reductions due to downsizing and restructuring Up to 30% of a typical manager’s time is spent dealing with conflict If you are a manager – the last fact is a scary statistic and really underlines the need to get a better grip on dealing with conflict. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 5
  6. 6. How to resolve conflict in the workplace With this in mind, let’s take a look at some golden rules when approaching conflict and the first top tip is this: Conflict doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing! © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 6
  7. 7. How to resolve conflict in the workplace This piece of enlightenment should be embraced as most of us invariably shy away from conflict or relish the prospect of going toe-to-toe with our nemesis. We’ll consider this passive or aggressive stance a little later. For now, understand and accept this simple truth… © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 7
  8. 8. How to resolve conflict in the workplace It’s not the conflict that’s the problem, it’s the way we deal with it that is. If you see conflict as an opportunity that presents a chance to enter into good dialogue, then you’re half-way there. This positive attitude really does make a difference psychologically and will subconsciously spread to all those involved. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 8
  9. 9. 9 How to resolve conflict in the workplace STRATEGIZE Managers who are adept at dealing with conflict often make it look easy. What is it about their laid back, self-confident and approachable demeanour? Consider these three steps: 1 Diagnose the Problem 2 Strategize for it 3 Solve it So let’s consider what each stage entails… © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  10. 10. 10 How to resolve conflict in the workplace STRATEGIZE Rest-assured, under that veneer of calm – there lies an individual who has invested time studying the magic of interpersonal effectiveness. Good managers make it look easy because they have put all the right mechanisms into place in the first instance. Consider these three steps: 1 Diagnose the Problem 2 Strategize for it 3 Solve it So let’s consider what each stage entails… © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  11. 11. 1. Diagnose the Problem 11 Firstly, it’s critical to understand the conflict in the first place. Ask yourself some questions:   Why has this happened? Is there a history to this conflict?  Who are the main players?  How am I perceiving this conflict?  What is the balance of power?  What is the scope of the conflict now? What about tomorrow?  © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. What’s going on? In what direction will the escalation go? Up, down, across or every which way?
  12. 12. 12 1. Diagnose the Problem Managers who take the time to diagnose conflict have invested their time wisely. Having a better appraisal of the situation allows you to facilitate the right dialogue. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  13. 13. 13 2. Strategize for it In the 1970s, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann identified five styles of dealing with conflict. They argued that people typically have a preferred style, ranging from a more assertive to passive style of conflict management. They also noted that different styles were most useful in different situations. They developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The styles are as follows: © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  14. 14. 14 2. Strategize for it ASSERTIVE Collaborating Compromising Avoiding Accommodating UNASSERTIVE © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. COOPERATIVE UNCOOPERATIVE Competing
  15. 15. 15 2. Strategize for it COMPETING People who have a preference for a competing style take a firm stance and know exactly what they want. These individuals tend to operate from a position of power drawn from expertise or persuasive ability. This style can be useful when there is an emergency and a decision needs to be made fast, also when the decision is unpopular or when defending against someone who is trying to exploit a situation. However it can leave people feeling resentful when used in less urgent situations and when applied for every situation. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  16. 16. 16 2. Strategize for it COLLABORATIVE People who have a tendency to employ a collaborative style try to meet the needs and expectations of all individuals involved. This style is useful when you need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution, when there have been previous conflicts in the group, or when the situation is too important for a simple trade-off. However, one disadvantage is that the collaborative approach can be time consuming when trying to meet everyone’s needs. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  17. 17. 17 2. Strategize for it COMPROMISING People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to give up something and the compromiser him- or herself also expects to relinquish something. This style is useful when the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground, when equal strength opponents are at a standstill and when there is a deadline looming. However, the disadvantage of compromising is just that. When you compromise you have to be prepared to sacrifice something. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  18. 18. 18 2. Strategize for it COMPROMISING ACCOMMODATING With the accommodating style, you try to meet the needs of others at the expense of your own needs. The accommodator often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues matter more to the other party. This is a nice style to use when you want to generate good will, but if you accommodate all the time, you will be taken advantage of. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  19. 19. 19 2. Strategize for it AVOIDING People who use this style tend to dodge the conflict entirely. This style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions and not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings. It can be appropriate when victory is impossible, when the controversy is trivial, or when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. However in many situations this is a weak and ineffective approach to take and if you choose to always employ this style, you’ll be perceived as weak and incapable of managing situations. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  20. 20. 2. Strategize for it The key to using these conflict management styles is by understanding that if you predominantly use the same style all the time, you’re probably using the wrong style, most of the time. A good conflict handler has the ability to flex their style, knowing which one to use given the situation they are confronted with. This brings us to the third and final element of effectively strategizing for greater conflict management. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 20
  21. 21. 3. Solve it This stage looks at actually having the conversation and that conversation could be structured in the following way: 1 2 Inquiry 3 Acknowledgement 4 An invitation to partner 5 © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Opening Problem solving 21
  22. 22. 22 3. Solve it 1 Opening Offer a few of these openers and then ask for some input:  I need your help understanding what just happened. Can we talk?  I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.  I’d like to talk about…, but first I’d like to get your point of view. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  23. 23. 23 3. Solve it 2 Inquiry  Get the facts and feelings.  Beware of assumptions, preconceptions and your emotion.  Be curious rather than furious. Learn about the other person’s point of view, how do things affect them, and what are their values and priorities?  Let the person talk until they’re finished. Don’t interrupt except to acknowledge. You’ll get your turn. Don’t rush. Whatever you hear, don’t take it personally. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  24. 24. 24 3. Solve it 3 Acknowledgement  Don’t argue about who’s right, explore each other’s stories.  Arguing without understanding their perspective is unpersuasive. 4 An invitation to partner  When the person has expressed all their energy on a topic, it’s your turn.  What can you see from your perspective that they have missed? Help to clarify your position without minimizing theirs.  Draw the person into seeking a mutually beneficial solution. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  25. 25. 25 3. Solve it 5 Problem solving  When it comes to problem solving, take the lead.  Ask the other person what they think would work.  Whatever they say, find something you can work with and build on.  If the conversation becomes adversarial, go back to inquiry. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  26. 26. Before we conclude 26 Before we conclude this article on how to manage conflict, I mentioned that we’d consider the issues of passivity and aggression. I’d like you to reflect on what your natural orientation would be. You may well be a more aggressive individual, ready to stand their ground and not shy of getting into conflict. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  27. 27. Before we conclude 27 Conversely, you may find this uncomfortable – preferring to avoid conflict at all costs. Neither position helps you deal with conflict. The only way to we effectively manage conflicting situations is to learn the skill of assertiveness. For it is a skill – rather than something we are born with. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  28. 28. Before we conclude 28 You may argue that by being aggressive, you will get what you want. Well – very possibly, but only in the short term and in the meantime you will build up a great deal of resentment from those you bully and cajole into doing what serves you best. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  29. 29. Before we conclude 29 Equally, passive people may keep their heads below the parapets and acquiesce when pressed – thus avoiding conflict, but ultimately they will be overburdened with tasks. Effectively, they will become the proverbial office beast of burden. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  30. 30. Before we conclude 30 Being assertive will give you the tools to cope with conflict far more effectively. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  31. 31. Before we conclude 31 Specifically, if aggression equals my needs are greater than your needs and passivity equals your needs are greater than my needs, then assertiveness is my needs are equal to your needs. © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  32. 32. 32 Conclusion By learning to be assertive, you’ll: In conclusion, adopting these  Avoid finger pointing guarantee that you will gain a best practices will not  Do your part in fostering a blamefree culture favourable outcome each and  Communicate in a respectful way – thus initiating a respectful transaction of views guarantee that you have done  Be confident that you have conducted yourself in a professional manner. better about dealing with a © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. every time, but it will everything possible to have better conversations and that in itself, will make you feel part of life that can cause so much stress.
  33. 33. 33 About Us Webinar Twitter Blog Viewpoints and articles Publications Written by Terence Brake, Director of Learning & Innovation at TMA World. Visit www.tmaworld.com/insights to discover the latest thinking from our experts on global, collaborative, cross-cultural and virtual working. There you’ll find links to our: © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Our new Borderless Working e-book series
  34. 34. 34 About Us Visit www.tmaworld.com/insights to discover the latest thinking from our experts on global, collaborative, Above all we’d like to hear from you directly, so please don’t hesitate to send any comments, questions or feedback to us at: enquiries@tmaworld.com cross-cultural and virtual working. Or visit our website: www.tmaworld.com © Transnational Management Associates Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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