Sunday, April 24, 2011

Essay on Conflict Management

Essay on Conflict Management

I work for an organization called Hallmark Trading Company. This company provides services such as capital ventures, new and used equipment sales and purchases, and a full line truck center. In the course of doing business, sometimes conflict will arise. In this paper, I will first explain what conflict is, the different types of conflict and then the different styles of management used to handle conflict. My personal style of management will also be shown according to the assessment tool taken from the workbook Organizational Behavior 7th addition written by Schermerhorn JR., Hunt, and Osborn. I will explain how this style contradicts with the style of management in my organization but how the style they use may be more effective.

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Conflict is something that happens often in my organization. However, there are different styles to manage conflict and some are more effective than others. Before I explain these different styles, it is important to understand what conflict is. "Conflict occurs whenever disagreements exist in a social situation over issues of substance or whenever emotional antagonisms create frictions between individuals or groups" (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn, 2002 pg.127, Conflict). There are two distinctive types of conflict, "substantive conflict" and "emotional conflict".

Substantive conflict happens when one person fundamentally disagrees with another person or group in the course of doing business. For example, my boss bought a package of step vans used in delivering bakery products. He wanted to market the trucks for electrical and mechanical applications where I thought they should be remarketed for another bakery operation. This is just a disagreement of opinions, but management still has to develop a way to manage this type of conflict, which can be very challenging depending on the personalities involved.

Emotional conflict intrudes into the feelings of a situation, such as anger, mistrust, dislike, fear, resentment, and the like. This is commonly called "clash of personalities" (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn, 2002, pg.127,). This type of conflict can sometimes be more draining, and take away from the more important work that needs to be done. Usually this happens between co-workers who may not like one another, or with customers who are not dealt with properly. I have witnessed both types of conflict in my organization and the different styles used in managing these types of conflicts.

According to Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn there are five ways to manage conflict. The first style I want to write about is Smoothing or Accommodation style. This is when a manager agrees with the other side of the conflicting situation. He/she smoothes the conflict over by maintaining superficial harmony. Second is Collaboration and Problem Solving. This is when a manager trouble shoots the problem and then works through the differences to make it an acceptable situation for everyone. The third is Avoidance. With this style the manager would stay neutral at all costs, trying not to participate in the situation at all. The fourth is Competition and Authoritative Command. This style of management is derived from the term I like to use as the "God" style. When a manager forces the opposite party to agree with him/her. They use their position to win due to their authority. The last style is Compromise. This style is when the manager seeks "acceptable" rather than "optimal" solutions so no one totally wins or loses.

There is not one style that is used as a guideline in my organization. Each departmental manager uses the style that is conformed by his or her personality. The CEO of the organization tends to use the competition and authoritative command style. He is an ex-military man who has this style instilled into his personality. He is the boss, so we need to do it his way. This is a very counter productive way to manage conflict. He makes us use his philosophies in decisions we make rather than opening the conflict up for debate. The "my way or the highway" attitude. This style of management forces more conflict between the departments and resentment towards him. Even though I do not agree with this style of managing conflict it has been a successful style for him. He has been able to maintain a high level of integrity through the same style. Meaning, although he forces his views and decisions on his employees those decisions and views are mostly good for the company, just sometimes bad for morale.

In the organizational behavior workbook 7th addition, there is an assessment test that helps the person taking it understand which style he or she uses. It asks a variety of questions that help pinpoint the style best suited for his/her personality. The style that was best suited for my personality was Collaboration and Problem Solving. According to the text this is the best style to handle conflict. The difference between this and the style that my CEO uses is that I genuinely have a desire to find a solution for everyone's concerns by working through differences to find the problem so everyone gains as a result. His desire is that everyone should think the way he does for every situation even though everyone's views are different.

This essay paper has explained what conflict is and the two types of conflict there are. It listed each style of management used to deal with conflict and which styles work best. It also has explained which style is used by my organization "Hallmark Trading Company" and what style I use personally according to the assessment tool in the Organizational Behavior Workbook 7th addition. I enjoyed learning more about the different styles of managing conflict while writing this paper. My desire is now to be able to recognize conflict when it happens and use a style of management that will best resolve the issues in the conflict.

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