In order for to understand fully the conflict management styles used in my organization I must first explain what conflict means to me. Conflict occurs whenever disagreements exist in a social situation over issues of substance or whenever emotional disagreements create tension between individuals or groups. Managers and team leaders can spend considerable time dealing with conflict. Conflict happens in personal professional, family, and social relationships. Frequently, conflict damages and destroys relationships. Sometimes the damage is irreversible. Conflict does not have to be destructive. It can also be an incentive for change, for improvement, and for creativity.
Most organizations do not handle internal conflict very well. My organization uses three basic approaches to handle conflict in the workplace. Sadly enough, the two most common approaches do not work. The three approaches used in my organization are the following: avoiding conflict, authoritative command and turning conflict into positive outcomes.
Avoiding ConflictAvoiding conflict by respecting diversity in thoughts and ideas is based upon the belief that conflict is unconstructive or that it is a sign of a dysfunctional group. Organizations that use this approach may try to create structures to prevent conflict. Avoidance is often a sign of denial that conflict exists. I believe avoiding conflict does not work. Few problems in the workplace go away on their own. Typically when a conflict is not addressed artificial ideas or thoughts are created and team cohesion slowly erodes. The more serious the problem, the less likely the problem will go away without conscious intervention.
Authoritative commandThe authoritative command approach is based upon the belief that an employee can smother or eliminate conflict by ways of intimidation, similar to a military leadership style. A common suppression strategy is to "lay down the law," to set strict limits, to require people to work...