Functional and Dysfunctional Conflicts S. Ebi Pearlin MA.HRM(1st year)
Topics to be covered1. What id Conflict.?2. Difference between the traditional, human relations, and interactionist views of conflict.3. The conflict iceberg4. Functional vs. Dysfunctional Conflict5. Contrast task, relationship, and process conflict.6. Outline of the conflict process.7. 5 stages in the Conflict process8. Conflict management techniques
ConflictConflict Defined – Is a process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about. o Is that point in an ongoing activity when an interaction “crosses over” to become an interparty conflict. – Encompasses a wide range of conflicts that people experience in organizations o Incompatibility of goals o Differences over interpretations of facts o Disagreements based on behavioral expectations
Transitions in Conflict ThoughtTraditional View of ConflictThe belief that all conflict is harmful and must be avoided.Causes:• Poor communication• Lack of openness• Failure to respond to employee needs
Transitions in Conflict Thought (cont’d)Human Relations View of ConflictThe belief that conflict is a natural and inevitable outcomein any group.Interactionist View of ConflictThe belief that conflict is not only apositive force in a group but that it isabsolutely necessary for a group toperform effectively.
Functional versus Dysfunctional ConflictFunctional ConflictConflict that supports the goals ofthe group and improves itsperformance. Dysfunctional Conflict Conflict that hinders group performance.
Functional vs. Dysfunctional ConflictFunctional or Dysfunctional is determined bywhether the organization’s interests are served• Functional Conflict serves • Dysfunctional Conflict organization’s interests threatens organization’s interests• Is commonly referred to as constructive or cooperative • Wastes the organization’s conflict resources and is counterproductive
Types of ConflictTask ConflictConflicts over content and goalsof the work.Relationship ConflictConflict based on interpersonalrelationships.Process ConflictConflict over how work gets done.
Stage I: Potential Opposition or Incompatibility• Communication – Semantic difficulties, misunderstandings, and “noise”• Structure – Size and specialization of jobs – Jurisdictional clarity/ambiguity – Member/goal incompatibility – Leadership styles (close or participative) – Reward systems (win-lose) – Dependence/interdependence of groups• Personal Variables – Differing individual value systems – Personality types
Stage II: Cognition and PersonalizationPerceived Conflict Felt ConflictAwareness by one or more Emotional involvement in aparties of the existence of conflict creating anxiety,conditions that create tenseness, frustration, oropportunities for conflict hostility.to arise. Conflict Definition Negative Emotions Positive Feelings
Stage III: IntentionsIntentionsDecisions to act in a given way. Cooperativeness: • Attempting to satisfy the other party’s concerns. Assertiveness: • Attempting to satisfy one’s own concerns.
Stage III: Intentions (cont’d)CompetingA desire to satisfy one’s interests, regardless of the impact on the other party to theconflict.CollaboratingA situation in which the parties to a conflict each desire to satisfy fully the concerns of allparties.AvoidingThe desire to withdraw from or suppress a conflict.AccommodatingThe willingness of one party in a conflict to place the opponent’s interests above his orher own.CompromisingA situation in which each party to a conflict is willing to give upsomething.
Stage IV: BehaviorConflict ManagementThe use of resolution and stimulation techniques to achievethe desired level of conflict.
Stage V: Outcomes• Functional Outcomes from Conflict o Increased group performance o Improved quality of decisions o Stimulation of creativity and innovation o Encouragement of interest and curiosity o Provision of a medium for problem-solving o Creation of an environment for self-evaluation and change• Creating Functional Conflict o Reward dissent and punish conflict avoiders.• Dysfunctional Outcomes from Conflict o Development of discontent o Reduced group effectiveness o Retarded communication o Reduced group cohesiveness o Infighting among group members overcomes group goals
Types of Conflict• Personality Conflict – Given the many possible combinations of personality traits, it is clear why personality conflicts are inevitable – A personality conflict is an interpersonal opposition based on personal dislike, disagreement, and/or different styles• Intergroup Conflict – Conflict among work groups, teams and departments is a common threat to organizational competitiveness – Intergroup cohesiveness – a “we feeling” binding group members together – can be a good or bad thing (smooth running team or result in groupthink which limits critical thinking)
Minimizing Intergroup Conflict Level of perceived Recommended actions: intergroup conflict tends to increase when: • Work to eliminate specific negative• Conflict within the interactions between groups group is high • Conduct team building to reduce• There are negative intragroup conflict and prepare interactions between employees for cross-functional teamwork groups • Encourage personal friendships and• Influential third-party good working relationships across gossip about other group groups and departments is negative • Foster positive attitudes toward members of other groups • Avoid or neutralize negative gossip across groups or departments
Managing Conflict• Stimulating Functional Conflict – Devil’s Advocacy – The Dialectic Method• 5 Alternative Styles for Handling Dysfunctional Conflict – Integrating (Problem Solving), Obliging (Smoothing), Dominating (Forcing), Avoiding and Compromising• Third-Party Interventions – Conflict Triangles – Alternative Dispute Resolution
Stimulating Functional Conflict: Devil’s Advocacy1) A proposed course of action is generated2) A devil’s advocate is assigned to critique the proposal3) The critique is presented to key decision makers4) Any additional information relevant to the issues is gathered5) The decision to adopt, modify, or discontinue the proposed course of action is taken6) The decision is monitored
Stimulating Functional Conflict: The Dialectic Method 1) A proposed course of action is generated 2) Assumptions underlying the proposal are identified 3) A conflicting counterproposal is generated based on different assumptions 4) Advocates of each position present and debate merits of their proposals before key decision makers 5) The decision to adopt, either position or some other position is taken 6) The decision is monitored
5 Alternative Styles for Handling Dysfunctional Conflict High Integrating ObligingConcern for Others Compromising Low Dominating Avoiding High Low Concern for Self
5 Alternative Styles for Handling Dysfunctional Conflict1. Integrating (Problem Solving) – Is appropriate for complex issues plagued by misunderstanding – Is inappropriate for resolving conflicts rooted in opposing value systems – Its primary strength is its longer lasting impact because it deals with the underlying problem rather than merely with symptoms – However, it is very time consuming2. Obliging (Smoothing) – Involves playing down differences while emphasizing commonalities – May be appropriate when it is possible to eventually get something in return – Is inappropriate for complex or worsening problems – Its primary strength is that it encourages cooperation – However, it’s a temporary fix that fails to confront the underlying problem
5 Alternative Styles for Handling Dysfunctional Conflict3. Dominating (Forcing) – Shows a high concern for self and low concern for others – Encourages “I win, you lose” tactics – Is appropriate when an unpopular solution must be implemented, the issue is minor or a deadline is near – Is inappropriate in an open and participative climate – Its primary strength is speed – However, it often breeds resentment
5 Alternative Styles for Handling Dysfunctional Conflict4. Avoiding – May involve either passive withdrawal from the problem or active suppression of the issue – Is appropriate for trivial issues or when the costs of confrontation outweigh the benefits of resolving the conflict – Is inappropriate for difficult and worsening problems – Its primary strength is that it buys time in ambiguous situations – However, it only provides a temporary fix that sidesteps the underlying problem5. Compromising – A give-and-take approach involving moderate concern for both self &others – Is appropriate when parties have opposite goals or possess equal power – Is inappropriate when overuse would lead to inconclusive or delayed action – Its primary strength is that the democratic process has no losers – However, it only provides a temporary fix that can stifle creative problem solving
Third-Party Interventions• Conflict Triangles – When two people are having a problem and instead of addressing the problem, one of them gets a third party involved• Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – Avoiding costly lawsuits by resolving conflicts informally or through mediation or arbitration
Alternative Dispute ResolutionsFacilitation – A third party, usually a manager, informally urges disputing parties to deal direction with each other in a positive mannerConciliation – A neutral third party informally acts as a communication conduit between disputing partiesPeer review – A panel of trustworthy co-workers hears both sides of a dispute in an informal and confidential meeting
Alternative Dispute ResolutionsOmbudsman – Someone who works for the organization, and is widely respected, hears grievances on a confidential basis and attempts to arrange a solutionMediation – A trained, third-party neutral actively guides the disputing parties in exploring a solution; the mediator does not render a decisionArbitration – A trained, third-party neutral, makes a decision regarding the dispute
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