Methods of handling conflicts in an organisation

  • Clarification of goals and objectives: The clarification and continual refinement of goals and objectives, role definitions and performance standards will help to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Focusing attention on super ordinate goals that are shared by the parties in conflict may help to defuse hostility and lead to more cooperative behaviour.
  • Resource distribution: Although it may not always be possible for managers to increase their allocated share of resources, they may be able to use imagination and initiative to help overcome conflict situations – for example, making a special case to higher management; greater flexibility to transfer funds between budget headings; delaying staff appointments in one area to provide more money for another area.
  • Human resource management policies and procedures: Careful and detailed attention to just and equitable HRM policies and procedures may help to reduce areas of conflict. Examples are: job analysis, recruitment and selection, job evaluation; systems of reward and punishment; appeals, grievance and disciplinary procedures; arbitration and mediation; recognition of trade unions and their officials.
  • Non-monetary rewards: Where financial resources are limited, it may be possible to pay greater attention to non-monetary rewards. Examples are: job design; more interesting, challenging or responsible work; increased delegation or empowerment; flexible working hours; attendance at courses or conferences; unofficial perks or more relaxed working conditions.
  • Development of interpersonal/group process skills: This may help to encourage a better understanding of one’s own behaviour, the other person’s point of view, communication processes and problem-solving. It may also encourage people to work through conflict situations in a constructive manner.
  • Group activities: Attention to the composition of groups and to factors which affect group cohesiveness may reduce dysfunctional conflict. Overlapping group membership with a ‘linking-pin’ process, and the careful selection of project teams or task forces for problems affecting more than one group, may also be beneficial.
  • Leadership and management: A more participative and supportive style of leadership and managerial behaviour is likely to assist in conflict management – for example, showing an attitude of respect and trust; encouraging personal self-development; creating a work environment in which staff can work co-operatively together. A participative approach to leadership and management may also help to create greater employee commitment.

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