Conflict Resolution Strategies
Conflict has long been viewed as negative, and is usually associated with things as trivial as an argument to something as extreme as war, and is seldom seen as beneficial. In the team environment however, conflict can be very beneficial if recognized early and managed properly and can enhance team performance as well as relationships between team members.
Conflict is inevitable as humans interact, because not everyone shares the same beliefs, values, opinions, level of education, expertise on a given subject, and social or economical background, just to name a few. Most of us try to avoid conflict whenever possible because it makes us uncomfortable. To become comfortable with it, or at the very least be able to handle it when it arises, we need to understand it.
Let’s start by defining conflict. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, conflict can be defined as follows; "a: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands." (Merriam-Webster 2006) Conflict can arise when someone feels as though their intellect, values, creditability, or beliefs are being challenged.
To be an effective part of a team, understand that conflict will arise and members will need to be able to manage it as part of their responsibility to the team and to ourselves. Managing the conflict early can be very beneficial to the team attaining its goals and can greatly enhance the relationship of the team members. Some teams choose to ignore conflict when it occurs. They may view it as only negative and be fearful to confront it within the team, but this is generally resulting from a lack of training or knowledge on the subject of how to handle it effectively. Most companies today are team based at least to some extent. Whether a management team or some type of project team, there are teams almost everywhere one goes. Typically, they provide some type of training for conflict resolution so that team members can handle those situations where conflict comes up and allows them to deal with it within the team if possible. Ignoring conflict in any situation does not make the issue go away; in fact, in most cases it makes things worse and can ultimately destroy a team or a relationship and keep them from reaching the goal. Ignoring conflict is not managing it and should only be done there is no way to resolve the issue without some outside help. Remember that when creating a team charter, the guidelines for conflict resolution should be included and agreed on by all team members. (McNamara, 2003)
Some types of conflict can be positive leading to outstanding results toward reaching the team’s goal. Managing conflict correctly can increase involvement from other team members who may have been reluctant to share thoughts or ideas due to...