The article that I have chosen for analyzing is “Conflict Resolution: Understanding the elements”. This article has been taken from Head Start Bulletin and the author of the article is Kathryn Fernandez who is a Head Start fellow.
The article basically tells us that what is conflict, how we can prevent people from indulging into conflict, how we can solve conflict through a sequential procedure and achieve a win-win solution.
Let us start by understanding the term conflict. Conflict can be defined as the difference in opinion of two parties. Whatever one imagines, sees, interprets, experiences and perceives can be opposite to what other imagines, sees, interprets, experiences and perceives. When this difference comes in between two parties we come along a situation that is called conflict.
Conflict is usually taken into negative terms. Upon hearing the word conflict one gets a feeling that it is something destructive, but no it can also prove to be beneficial if it is handled in a proper and structured way. Companies often come across conflict of opinions when they are about to take certain decisions. If properly handled these conflicts not only help the companies to make amendments to the choices available but also help in taking the right decisions. But if these conflicts are not handled properly they can prove to be disastrous for the company. (Dana, 2000)
The company must have a supportive and encouraging environment if it wants conflict to act in a positive way. If the environment will be supportive then the employees will be more comfortable in voicing out their different opinions towards a common goal. In order to have a supportive culture the company must motivate employees to demonstrate good conflict resolution habits by showing them different thought provoking images, quotations and videos etc, and distribute them with motivational writings from different sources to encourage them to speak out about their perceptions.
The company should also encourage employees to write about their feelings in a private diary and ask the employees to have discussions so that if there is any conflict then it could be solved, give people power to come up with ways to solve the conflicts, do not just implement any decision on the employees but let them brainstorm. Provide punishment and rewards, if someone comes up with any good conflict resolution idea then reward him and if someone tries to escalate the conflict then punish him.
Even though conflict can be proved to be a good thing you don’t want to have it daily or on a continuous basis. So in order to prevent conflict the company should help employees to stay focus and not lose sight of the track. The company should show a little flexibility in others’ style of working but should time to time present them with directions on how to conduct the tasks. Company should use the tool of negotiation when faced with conflict. It should encourage questions to avoid issues and any confusion.
Company on a timely basis should provide feedback and share with its employees the observations. The company should help members of team in planning on how they can implement their agreement, and assess their efforts and formulate desired changes. Company can also set ground rules for discussion and teach its staff mediation in to order to avoid conflicts.
The author of the article has mentioned a six step sequential procedure for evaluating and solving the conflicts. Details of the process are given as under:
In step 1 the problem is clearly stated. This step basically focuses on determining the nature of conflict and factors that are causing the conflict to arise. In step 2, you hear and analyze everyone’s perspective about the conflicts so that you can come up with a solution that will benefit all the conflicting parties. In the next step i.e. step 3 you formulate a list of possible solutions for the conflict, keeping in mind that the solutions must be viable and must not be biased for any of the conflicting party.
In step 4, you evaluate the list of solutions you have chalked in. While evaluating the solutions the negotiator must have demands of both the conflicting parties in mind. Step 5 focuses on choosing and effective plan or choosing the best solution among the alternatives available. It should be a win-win solution for both the parties. Final step is all about contingency planning. In this step the company formulates a contingency plan that if the solution implemented before fails because of any reason then what could be their alternative for covering up the problem.
The next part of the articles is telling us that what purpose do conflicts serve? How can they be helpful for the company? Well generally conflicts occur in order to get any problem solved that exists in the company. Conflicts give boost to solve the problems that are there in the company. It states that what an employee cares about, what his values are and what matters most to him, the disagreement is usually on the things that you value the most. Conflicts help you understand what other person is like and in what are the values in which the other person has firm belief.
Conflicts suggest what change you might need in the company, it is not necessary that everything that is implemented in the company is working fine. It strengthens the bond between the employees by increasing the confidence that disagreements are not permanent and can be solved. It helps an individual release his feelings about a certain thing which if kept inside would be harmful both for him and people around him. It also brings a little color, life and joy to the organization as if there will be no conflict then everything would have been monotonous.
A company does not usually discriminate among its employees. It values all his employees equally so while solving most of the conflicts the companies try its level best to find a solution that is win-win for all. It tries to find an alternative that does not hurts the esteem of one person and give excessive preference to the other. In order to come up with the win-win solution the company should lay some ground principles like listening to each party, looking for positive points in both parties’ arguments, agreeing on confidentiality when needed. (Fernandez, 2000)
I would like to conclude by saying that even though conflict can come out to be disastrous sometimes it is still necessary as it tells us that where loopholes exists in the organization and where immediate change is needed. Conflicts also bring out lots of creativity as everyone voice in their thoughts and ideas which in the end benefits the company and the employees working in it. The whole discussion lefts us with the thought that a little amount of conflict is a must for every organization.
Dana, D. (2000). Conflict resolution. McGraw – Hill
Fernandez, K. (2000) Conflict Resolution: Understanding the Elements. Head Start Bulletin, #68. Available from: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/Family%20and%20Community%20Partnerships/New%20Parental%20Involvement/Program%20Governance/ConflictResoluti.htm