Conflict Management


Article Author:
Vickie Ellis


Article Editor:
Tammy Toney-Butler


Editors In Chief:
Bette Bogdan
Lori Kerley
Robin Geiger


Managing Editors:
Frank Smeeks
Scott Dulebohn
Erin Hughes
Pritesh Sheth
Mark Pellegrini
James Hughes
Richard Ciresi
Phillip Hynes


Updated:
10/27/2018 12:31:29 PM

Introduction

Conflict is the disagreement or difference of opinions between 2 or more individuals. In the workplace setting, it often involves personal agendas, insights, or goals versus the agendas, insights, or goals of the group or team. Conflict management is to resolve the disagreement or conflict with positive outcomes, which satisfy all involved or is beneficial to the group. Often the perception of conflict is negative.

Conflict can, in fact, be positive if it is managed productively. Conflict can promote team building skills, critical thinking, new ideas, and alternative resolutions. Conflict management is a crucial competency that leaders must possess, for the success of the team, group, unit, or employees they lead.

Function

Providing conflict management skills could help raise the emotional intelligence of future managers. Excellent communication skills allow the manager to resolve interpersonal situations and conflict. Mentoring of new leaders is vital in bridging generational gaps and shaping the culture of the organization. Mentoring can assist a new leader in navigating the murky waters of an organizational hierarchy and developing their style of leadership that fits well within the charted course.

Leadership style has a role to play in conflict resolution and overall team dynamic. 

Leadership Styles

Servant Leader

A servant-leader is where a person aspires to lead by servitude and ensures the needs of others are a priority. Servant-leaders focus on the needs and growth of others, putting their well-being first, rather than their self-interests. This leadership style reflects a sharing of power, enabling others to perform at a higher level for personal growth. 

Transformational Leader

Transformational-leaders assist an individual in the process of transformation where their own beliefs and values support or align with the organizational values. A transformational-leader fosters an environment of trust, relationship building to meet common goals, and sharing of innovative ideas or long-term vision for the organization.

Transformative leaders can develop a trusting, relationship with their followers or team members, thus influencing their actions. The effect is a trickle-down outcome of conflict resolution in an environment built on mutual trust and the ability to mold an individual's response to a conflict or stressor for the greater good of the organization and population served. An ability to manage conflict effectively is a quality of a transformative leader.

Laissez-Faire Leader

Laissez-Faire leaders leave the decision making to their followers or team members, lacking real authority within their organization, but responsible for group decisions and actions. The leader trusts the individual members of the team to problem solve, create new projects, make and meet goals, and self-monitor. This leadership style requires no real feedback, oversight, direct leadership, discipline or praise. Thus, productivity may be low amongst some members of the group and lead to a source of conflict.

Authoritarian Leader

Authoritarian leaders lead by dictating and controlling the actions and decision-making capacity of the group. This leadership style reflects choices made based on their ideas, judgments and personal beliefs, not those of their employees. Authoritarian leaders lead by enforcement and welcome little input from their team members or followers. 

Expecting a job to be done, focused on tasks rather than individuals performing those tasks, and inability to accept input and give positive feedback yields an environment lacking in trust. Team members are not trusted, nor empowered to resolve conflicts on their own. Thus, the team dynamic may suffer long-term. Turn over in staff directly related to the inability to manage disputes and promote an environment that enriches positive growth and resolves conflicts.

Transactional Leader

A transactional leader primarily focused on workflow. This leadership style may focus on incentives for "getting the job done" in a timely, efficient manner. Rewards for completing work on time or ahead of schedule, or penalties (disciplinary action) if the job delayed are components of this leadership style. These leaders may fail to look forward at where the future of the organization is heading, focused only on the here and now.

Visionary Leader

A visionary leader has a vision or long-term goal. These leaders possess insight, imagination, and passion related to an innovative goal or idea. They are always looking out for the best interest of the team, promoting sharing of ideas, creative goals, and a sense of empowerment to go beyond what is expected to create something unexpected.

A visionary leader fosters a healthy relationship with their team. Promoting entrepreneurial ideas and visions for the future, thus fostering a strong team dynamic capable of managing conflicts through open communication in a positive, nonadversarial manner. 

Conflict management styles take many forms and can reflect a particular style of leadership.

Issues of Concern

Conflict Management Styles

Avoidance

In this style of conflict management, some or all people involved in the conflict simply avoid the situation or ignore its existence. For the individuals involved, this is a losing situation. The conflict is unresolved. It continues to fester and build, creating more conflict.

Accommodative

In this style of conflict management, one party wins and one party loses. One opinion is accepted, and the other opinion is lost. The resolution will benefit one instead of all involved. For the person who manages the conflict, this becomes a sore spot and causes resentment. Although it may resolve the conflict, it does not satisfy all involved.

Competitive

In this style of conflict management, one party will win, and one party will lose. It will resolve the situation, but will not promote a unified or team approach to solving problems.

Compromise

In this style of conflict management, neither party will be fully satisfied. The result will harbor resentment between those involved. In the resolution, each party sacrifices a portion of his or her solution. A significant part of the resolution can be left out, and the best outcome may not prevail.

Collaborative

In this style of conflict management, all parties involved are brought together for a resolution. Active listening, respectful communication, and an open mind are incorporated into the solution process for the best outcome. All parties involved have a say, and all parties involved reach a solution. This solution is accepted as the best outcome for all involved.

Steps To Conflict Management

  • Before communication begins, set rules of respectful communication.
  • Ask all involved to set aside preconceived opinions about each other.
  • Ask all parties to engage in active listening without interruption.
  • Ask all parties to write down the problem. Then restate the problem out loud. This provides understanding and agreement about the problem causing the conflict.
  • Ask each party to come up with a solution. 
  • Discuss each solution and the positive and negative of each.

Clinical Significance

Resolution of conflicting views is of paramount importance in assuring that patients receive the best care possible. As such, it is important for healthcare providers to work together to achieve conflict resolution.


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Conflict Management - Questions

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Which of the following is the best outcome of conflict?



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Which of the following is the goal of conflict management?



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Which of the following is not among the conflict modes used in conflict resolution?



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Which of the following is the least desirable outcome of effective conflict resolution?



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Which of the following is the conflict resolution strategy that respects individual differences while coaching them on how to open to up to other positions?



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Which of the following does not apply to cognitive restructuring?



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Which of the following best describes Contingency Theory?



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Which describes a two-step dispute resolution process?



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Which is the least facilitative method of managing conflict?



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Which of the following best defines the term "functional conflict"



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Which of the following best describes the "accommodating" style of conflict and interpersonal management?



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Which of the following is the least effective method of adjusting in conflict management?



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Which conflict management style is most likely to declare a resolution without the benefit of discussion?



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Which of the following will most likely result in the resolution of a conflict?



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Which of the following is least likely to cause conflicts?



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Which of the following is the least effective approach to conflict management?



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Which of the following is a conflict management style described in the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)?



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As a leader, you are assigned to facilitate a group of interdisciplinary healthcare workers in the collaboration of a panel of client’s health care needs. The team consists of a physician, a nurse, a physical therapist, a dietician, and a social worker. The team acts as a home-based primary care unit. Each month the nurse visits the homes of clients, does an assessment, and reports back to the team information about diagnosis, assessment findings, conditions of living, the level of activity of daily living, dietary intake, and any problems the client may be having. The team takes the information and collaborates for effective treatment and interventions. The nurse makes suggestions of care planning. She feels she is the person who best knows the client because she visits the client and does the assessment of the situation. The physician disagrees with her suggestions. He indicates he is the one who writes the orders, so he is responsible for the care. He requests to move on to the next client. As far as the physician is concerned, there is no need for further discussion. As the facilitator of the team meeting, what should you do?



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As a healthcare worker working the graveyard shift, in order to safely practice you must sleep during the day. Your neighbor owns a day care and the children play outside next to your bedroom window. You are awoken to screaming children after only 3 hours of sleep. You get up, put on your robe and run outside screaming at your neighbor. You tell her if you hurt someone on the job she will be responsible. You demand she take the children inside to play or you will call and turn her in as a non-licensed day care causing her havoc. The neighbor tells the children to go in the house to play and apologizes to the nurse indicating it won’t happen again. What style of conflict management does nurse exhibit?



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As a nurse in a hospital which is seeking Magnet status, you know part of the criteria to achieve magnet status is shared governance. Nurses having autonomy is part of the achievement of Magnet status. At a glance of the policy and procedure, it looks as though this criterion is met in the hospital you work. The organization has established a nursing board compromised of nurses who make the decisions. The nurses on the board were hand selected and you feel as though this does not create autonomy or meet the criteria to achieve shared governance for Magnet status. Using respectful communication you request a meeting with the Nurse Executive (NE) of your organization and speak with her regarding your concerns. Which of the following would indicate the NE used a compromise style of conflict management?



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Conflict Management - References

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