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Conflict Management. Dr. Ho Kit Wan Hong Kong Polytechnic University 31 March, 2006. Conflict: natural and inevitable facts of organizational life. Conflict may be beneficial, making groups effective, energetic, creative, release tensions, leading to change; but it can also be disruptive.

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conflict management

Conflict Management

Dr. Ho Kit Wan

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

31 March, 2006

conflict natural and inevitable facts of organizational life
Conflict: natural and inevitable facts of organizational life
  • Conflict may be beneficial, making groups effective, energetic, creative, release tensions, leading to change; but it can also be disruptive.
  • Conflict management is the long-term management, an on-going process, of intractable conflicts. It may not lead to a resolution.
  • Conflict resolution refers to resolving the dispute to the approval of one or both parties
It is estimated that 30% of a manager’s time is spent dealing with conflict
  • Fortune 500 company executives are involved in litigation related activity 20% of their time.
sources of conflict
Sources of conflict

Interpersonal sources

  • Faulty attributions
  • assumptions and beliefs
  • Poor communication
  • Personality clashes
  • Gender, age and cultural differences
  • Distrust
  • grudges
sources of conflict5
Sources of conflict

Group dynamic sources

  • Formation of cliques
  • Power tactics and manipulation
  • Relationship rules (social and task-related rules)
sources of conflict6
Sources of conflict

Organizational sources

  • Struggle for resources
  • Ambiguity over responsibility and jurisdiction
  • Inequity of reward
  • Differentiation leading to self-interest
  • Differentiation leading to divergent values and vision
  • Power differentials
  • Blockage of communication
sydney hong kong
Sydney/Hong Kong
  • Poor, blockage of communication (4,4)
  • Differences in values (4,4)
  • Power differentials, tactics (4,4)
  • False assumptions (4,4)
  • Personality clash (4,4)
  • Broken interpersonal, task norms (4,4)
  • Struggle for resources (4,3)
  • Unfulfilled expectations (3,4)
  • Ambiguity over responsibilities (3,4)
  • Stereotypes (3,4)
  • Lasting grudges (2,4)
  • Formation of cliques (2,4)
  • Distrust (1, 4)
styles of conflict management
Styles of conflict management
  • Rahim (1983): five styles, along two dimensions, concern for self and concern for others
  • Integrating: high concern for self and for other, collaboration to reach a solution acceptable for both parties
  • Obliging: low concern for self and high concern for other, play down differences and emphasize commonalities to satisfy the concern of the other
Dominating: high concern for self and low concern for other, a forcing behavior to win one’s position
  • Avoiding: low concern for self and for other, withdrawal, passing the buck, sidestepping.
  • Compromising: moderate concern for self and other, both parties give up something to make a mutually acceptable solution
comparisons with significant differences
Comparisons with significant differences
  • Sydney more integrating than Hong Kong
  • Male more dominating than female
  • Managerial more integrating and less avoiding than front-line
hkcss 2004 training needs of ngos
HKCSS (2004): training needs of NGOs
  • Among 61 competencies, 16 Items were regarded as important by respondents with 100% response rate (49 managerial and supervisory staff)
  • Dealing with conflicts
  • Decision making
  • Self-motivation
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Building staff morale
Conflict management skills
  • Coaching and counseling skills
  • Supervision skills
  • Strategic planning
  • Change management
  • Problem solving
  • Decision-making
  • Managing priorities
  • Communication with staff
Employee relation
  • It broadly deals with the relationships encountered by workplaces in their working lives, levels ranging from individual to international
  • Concerned with how to gain people’s commitment to the achievement of the organization’s business goals and objectives, and to ensure organizational change is accepted.
Management’s attitude towards unions:
  • Exclusion: discourage workers to join unions by coercion
  • Containment: direct the loyalty of the workers away from the union and back to the company, relations with union is on a legal basis, scope of collective bargaining is kept as narrow as possible
  • acceptance and accommodation: use union to improve relations
  • Cooperation: use union to solve production problems
Why people join unions?
  • Poor morale rather than wages
  • Lack of participation and complaint handling systems
Responsibilities of CEO and/or the employee relation officer
  • The primary liaison between the board and employee groups, and between the board and management on matters of employee relations
  • Development of viable employee relation policy
  • Lead the implementation and administration of related policies
Strategies of employee relations
  • Strategic planning in reform
  • Prevent, manage and resolve disputes
  • Good relationship and communication with relevant parties, such as union, association.
  • Develop, negotiate, and process enterprise agreements (both union and non-union collective agreements)
  • Manage the effective implementation and utilization of individual employment arrangements
  • Advising on all legal and commercial aspects of outsourcing arrangements
  • Advocacy before industrial tribunals and courts
  • Advising on performance appraisal systems (collaborative)
Orientation, staff handbook
  • Coaching, training
  • Communication: supervisor, a critical link between organization and front-line employees; top employees listen to employees directly, internal customer satisfaction survey, publications, retention and exit interview
  • Recognition and reward program
  • Fair compensation and disciplinary action
  • Ombudsman/appeal system
  • Industry health and safety measures
  • Employee assistance program
  • Harassment prevention program
tactics of conflict resolution
Tactics of conflict resolution
  • Prompt response/action
  • Select the right person
  • Finding neutral turf
  • Define clearly the issue
  • Acknowledge the grievances
  • Grasp your own standpoint (what can be changed and what cannot be changed), and what is the baseline. Has a tentative solution to offer when necessary.
  • Handle the most critical issue first, and let them know your baseline, your difficulties, the consequence of not doing so, and what cannot be changed.
  • Divide the participants
  • Narrow the scope of issue
  • Emphasize super-goal, show problem solving attitude
Praise what they have contributed, appreciate their openness, participation
  • Recall successful cooperative experiences
  • Offering feedback/observation
  • Stick to the fact, focus on interest, not position nor opinion
  • Show sincere, considerate, empathic and committed attitude
  • Two-way communications
  • Maintain trust, keep promise
  • Sharing, clarification, expression, not teaching, blaming, or even scolding
giving feedback to staff
Giving feedback to staff
  • Focus on the positive first
  • Focus on behaviors, not person, nor personalities
  • Be hard on the problem but gentle on the person
  • Be descriptive and constructive, not judgmental nor evaluative
  • Use positive or neutral language
If have to be critical, explain where improvements can be made
  • Check that feedback is understood
  • Agree joint courses of action
  • Make allowance for the abilities of high, medium, and low ability of staff
  • Give people a fair go, but apply the three warnings and out principle
  • If your employees go away thinking about their behavior, you are successful, if they think about you and your behavior, you are failed.
  • Leaders must move from a command and control style of management to one that encourages coaching, mentoring, employee empowerment, and self-learning.
  • Communication, search for super-goal, common ground.
  • Anthony Cheung, “no reform, no matter how well it intended, can succeed if it fails to gain the backing of those involved, including management and staff” (SCMP, 27/3/2006)