Conflict is when two or more values, perspectives, opinions are contradictory in nature and have not been aligned or agreed about yet (Walton, 1987). Conflict help to raise and address problems, energizes work to be on the most appropriate issues, motivate employees to participate in decision making and help them to learn how to recognize and benefit from the differences in the wok place. Conflict can be a problem when it hampers productivity, lowers morale, and causes more in appropriate behaviors and conflicts (Walter & Murray, 1988).
Conflict management refers to long-term management of intractable conflicts (Blitman, 2002). Conflict is inevitable and can arise between work employees in IBM due to miscommunications, unmet expectations, feelings that one contribution has not been acknowledged, conflicting values between managers and employees and leadership problems of inconsistency (Blitman, 2002).
Today’s workplace in IBM is much more egalitarian, that is, flatter chain of command hence primary workers are given freedom to make decisions and can more from one job to another which can lead to conflicts in line with conflict resolution strategies suggested by (Walter & Murray, 1988 ).
There are two conflict styles, constructive and destructive according to (Esquirel & Kleiner, 1996). (Esquirel & Kleiner, 1996) further elaborates constructive conflict assist employees view conflict as an opportunity to make things better. Constructive approach to conflict can be in four ways, that is, pragmatic, self-empowered, relationship builder and conciliator. According to (Walter & Murray, 1988) a pragmatic employee looks at the facts and figures how a conflict arises. The pragmatic look at the facts and accepts the idea that works whether it is their own or their opponents because what guides such a person is the end result of their efforts.
Self-empowered employees take ownership and responsibility and do not blame others as they view conflicts, as a challenge and opportunity to find solutions that others thought were impossible. Relationship builder have to make a human connection with the person who brought about a conflict and a conciliator makes it a win-win situation (Walton, 1987).
On its part, defensive conflict tends to build a protective barrier where employees can act as avoider, accommodator, regulator, insulator, and dominator (Esquirel & Kleiner, 1996). An avoider will wait for the conflict to go away but fear and resentment can be build if an underlying problem is not dealt with. As (Walton, 1987), notes, accommodators have a strategy of allowing themselves to lose so that others like them, regulators use rules as their defense as they see rules to be more important than results. Insulators find a base of power and hide behind it while a dominator will insist that things are done their own way and use control, which can lead to conflict.
IBM recruits people of all ages and from all over the world hence when they come to work together they have different values, goals, behavior expectations that can lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication. IBM time element can lead to conflict, for instance, as time pressure increases the perceived need to obtain the most desirable out come may fade. Urgency can increase decision costs promoting management to soften its demands.
Conflict management develops teams that are creative and innovative hence the reason why conflict resolution is highly commendable for attaining high performance in organizations (Walter & Murray, 1988). Skills for both team members and leaders can be developed well to allow them to assimilate into newly formed teams, become effective members quickly and efficiently to avoid conflicts. In IBM conflict can be managed in the following ways.
Where managers create an environment where employees can make the right choices, conflicts are resolved well and employees feel valued (Walter & Murray, 1988). TheC has a strategy which build the right group norms hence employees are open to differences which is effective in reaching good decisions. Employees are able to express differences appropriately and effectively resolve them if conflicts arises.
Conflicts can be dealt with by letting employees voice their concerns something which the management at IBM puts into practice. IBM firm finds the source of conflict through the use of teams. The ability of employees to solve the problems close to the source, at the team level contribute to a healthy conflict resolution process which lead to constructive results.
IBM firm addresses the interests of the parties in conflict, which leads to a satisfying resolution and by these employees, are able to learn from the disagreement and can apply these lessons to new conflict situations. This practice has enabled employees to resolve new situations more efficiently (Esquirel & Kleiner, 1996).
IBM firm deals with different people in their work place in all genders, ages, cultures and working expectations hence the firm provides them with a common culture which clearly define behavior and expectations including policy, procedures, corporate values and culture which hold people accountable in line with (Walter & Murray, 1988) recommendations.
IBM firm does regular review job descriptions to ensure that employees know what their job entails and what is required of them, the management intentionally build relationships with all subordinates by discussing accomplishments, issues, challenges with them (Blitman, 2002).
In IBM the quality and quantity of work is rewarded and not time. The firm allows employees to have flexible time whenever possible and employees are allowed to relax and rest so as to be more productive and creative during working time.
IBM management has created a clear set of guidelines and it is easier for employees to know what to do, as the parameter set is clear. The firm has also published policy, procedures, values, expectations, and guidelines, which guide employees' behavior hence managing conflicts.
Healthy alliances between an organization and it stakeholder is developed when stakeholders remember that good solutions are those that work for all individuals involved. IBM firm equalizes power with the stakeholders to manage its conflict (Walter & Murray, 1988).
In conclusion if conflict is managed effectively it helps address many conflicts that could have put people down. It also leads to insights and opportunities that might not have been seen.
References Blitman, B.A. (2002). Conflict resolution techniques. Commercial Law Bulletin, 17 (4), 12. Esquired, M.A. & Kleiner, B.H. (1996) The importance of conflict in work team effectiveness empowerment in organizations. 4 (4), 10.
Walter, I & Murray, t. 91988) Hand book of International management, John Wiley and sons, ISBN 047160674X.
Walton, R.E. (1987) Managing Conflict: Interpersonal Dialogue and Third- Party roles,2nd Ed. Addison - Wesley Publishing Company.