Conflict Management Styles

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The conflict management approaches that are most frequently used by managers at ABC Corporation are competition and authoritative command. As a privately held company, the owners hold their personal concerns as the most valuable ends to achieve in conflict situations. My personal conflict management approach is collaboration and problem solving, with the best interests of the entire organization as a whole viewed as the most important aspect. Often this dichotomy of approaches between my previous employer and myself led to increased conflict above and beyond the original issues.

ABC Corporation

In formal meetings within the company, managers use the authoritative command and the competition approach. As topics are discussed, managers exercise their authority to “dictate a solution” and specify “what is gained and what is lost by whom”(Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00). Little discussion is permitted beyond clarification requests, and solution offerings by others are usually not permitted. Employees are left with a sense of unimportance, and quite often, with the feeling that the conflict was not truly resolved. Sometimes a manager will attempt to establish credibility by displaying their “superior skill” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00) or experience in a certain situation, often at the expense of an employee. This competition fosters an environment that is not welcoming for employees to question or submit ideas, as they are frequently shot down or “dominated” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00) by the manager.

Outside of formal meetings, avoidance is the underlying approach that is used at all levels of ABC Corporation. With employees responsible for their specific duties and tasks, little input is desired from others. When solutions are suggested that create conflict with their preferences or established procedures, these ideas are ignored with the apparent hope that they will simple “go away” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00). “A lose-lose conflict occurs as nobody really gets what he or she wants as a solution” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00). When this happens, “the underlying conflict remains unaffected and a similar conflict is likely to occur in the future” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00).

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Personal Approach

I believe that more effective management and increased productivity occur as a result of collaboration and problem solving. However, as out text points out, these approaches require investments in both “time and energy” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00) to be effective. Not only does it require the manager to be available and motivated to facilitate an open and honest forum to discuss “facts and feelings” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00), but also requires that all involved or interested employees devote the resources to provide feedback and contribute to the solution. The key I have found to making these approaches work is to “over invest” the time and energy that it takes to manage conflict within an organization. As time goes on, and a consistent environment is created, employees can know what to expect and can come to the forum prepared to be effective in conflict resolution. As members become more familiar with the collaborative approach of management, and it proves to be consistently effective, they are more likely to be supportive of the solutions.

Assessment # 0

My scores on the Assessment were highest in accommodating (11) and collaborating (1), with the lowest scores in competing (10), compromising (), and avoiding (). To me, this points to my desire to achieve a “win-win” (Shermerhorn, Jr., et al. 00) solution, and that I am not personally attached to a given solution. Even in cases that the conflict and/or the solution could affect me personally, I tend to detach my perspective and look at the situation as an outsider. This allows me to pragmatically weigh the options and approaches, and then make a decision that best fits the situation. I also am aware that I usually operate within the structure of an organization, and must also bear in mind the specific policies and procedures that I may or may not agree with. As a manager, conflict management is often an ongoing solution. Situations and business climates change daily, or even hourly, and it is reasonable for managers to employ a variety of approaches when managing conflict.

Schermerhorn, J., Hunt J., Osborn, R. (00). Organizational Behavior. USA John Wiley & Sons, Inc

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