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In an organization, conflicts are bound to happen because of the number of activities and roles as well as the number of people employed. In such a case, organizations provide frameworks for conflict resolution to enhance coexistence among stakeholders. However, the existence of conflict management strategies and guidelines does not rule out the possibility of their occurrence. Having the knowledge of how conflicts could occur, being aware of the impact they have on an individual or an organization, and exploring possible intervention measures is an essential move towards conflict resolution in organizations.
After a comprehensive assessment and review of the literature addressing the possible conflicts in an organization based on the five types outline in Wilmont and Hocker (2013), it is clear that conflicts are perceived differently among individuals in an organization. When employees have different perceptions, lack of agreement on a fact, have diverse perspective regarding a moral belief and disagree with a policy, plan, or strategy then conflicts could arise. I also ascertained that ego and disagreement regarding how a process is executed could lead to interpersonal conflicts in an organization. Such conflicts dimensions could result in existing different types of disputes, which could be categorized based on the causes or effect such as ego, policies, facts, and values.
On the other hand, I also noticed that the reaction of individuals, when faced with conflicts, is an essential component of conflict resolution that leaders should recognize and understand. Some people decide to withdraw when faced with conflict while others chose to force the situation by advancing their ideas and interest. I have also learned that accommodation is another strategy of conflict resolution where an individual decides to satisfy the needs of the other party by accepting the other person's ideas and perception while neglecting their point of view. Moreover, through compromise, two parties or individuals agreeing to satisfy the needs of both sides partially. Another essential response is collaboration, which is commonly used in an organization and adopts the problem-solving strategy. In this case, the conflict is defined, analyzed, acceptance criteria established, different solutions created, and the best alternative is chosen.
An example of a conflict that I once witnessed in an organization was between public relations head of department and the finance officer of the company. The members of the department were supposed to attend a capacity building event, and the HOD required the funds allocated for the occasion. However, the financial officer asked the HOD to prepare a budget for the event, which was to be reviewed before approval upon submission. The HOD questioned the role of the finance officer if he was not in a position to draft the required budget. The exchange between the two official elicited reactions against each other, which ended up to be an argument. When the management became aware of the occurrence, the two were summoned, and the HOD was ordered to prepare the budget and submit it to the finance officer to be reviewed before approval. However, no further interventions followed to ensure that such a conflict does not reoccur. A critical evaluation of the scenario indicates that the HOD and the finance officer were the primary conflict parties while the two departments, public relations, and finance, were the interested parties. The context of the conflict falls under jurisdiction while the main issues that generated the conflict fall under facts and interests. On the other hand, the conflict could not be categorized as intragroup or intergroup because it involved only two individuals from different departments.
Based on the above scenario that I witnessed in an organization that I once served, it is clear that a strategic approach to conflict resolution was not adopted. If I was the leader in that organization at the time of occurrence and equipped with the knowledge that I have currently gathered on conflict resolution and management, I could have considered the used the Hocker-Wilmot conflict assessment guide (Wilmont & Hocker, 2013). The guide allows organizational leaders to choose a critical approach to conflict resolution. I could have analyzed the nature and conflict style associated with the event. I could have also included the evaluation of power and goal elements characterizing the perspective of each party. Once the dimensions of the conflict have been outlined, it is easy to design solutions. In this case, it was essential to consider collaboration as the immediate intervention. Role alignment and employee sensitization was the best alternative as part of the long-term solutions.
In conclusion, I have learned that conflicts cannot be entirely avoided in an organization; however, it is essential to have a mitigation framework. Strategic leadership and effective organizational practices could be used to reduce cases of interpersonal conflicts. Moreover, having a long-term solution to a conflict that has occurred is crucial because it prevents reoccurrence. Since disputes are also associated with tangible and intangible costs, leaders should consider taking conflict resolutions as an important responsibility that should be included in the management structure. I have noticed that while the perception of the individual could differ regarding a specific conflict, it is essential for organizations to recognize the centricity of sensitization and on-job training to enhance interpersonal skills among workers. Furthermore, proper monitoring and evaluation and communication frameworks are tools that the management could use to ensure that the operations of the organization remain within the structural context.
Wilmot, W. & Hocker, J. (2013). Interpersonal conflict. (9th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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