5 Best Conflict Management Styles
Last updated on February 17th, 2023
Conflict, as unlikely and unwanted as it might seem is only natural at the workplace. While conflicts will inevitably arise, managing them properly can mean the world of difference. On the contrary, the inability to manage conflict can lead to projects going off track, absenteeism, a decline in productivity, mental health concerns for staff, as well as a high employee turnover. Hence, conflict management can help resolve pressing issues and keep the workforce productive and on track. Let’s take a look at the 5 best conflict management styles with examples.
What is Conflict Management?
Conflict management is the identification and efficient management of conflict. Identified issues handled fairly, efficiently, and sensibly can help resolve them and even act as a motivator for the workforce for innovation and improving efficiency. It is not only the responsibility of the manager or people in leadership roles at the top of the organization to help resolve conflicts but also individuals to try to manage conflict. How conflict is managed by a manager will often mean the success or stagnation of employees affected by it.
Why do Conflicts Arise at the Workplace?
Conflicts can often arise due to a variety of reasons. Employees are always looking to show how productive they are and many staff members would be looking to raise the bar, bring new ideas, and propose changes to existing working structures. Factors like these and many others are likely to mean that there will be disagreements, some of which can result in major disputes.
Common Conflict Management Styles
While there can be many approaches to managing conflict. There are five common conflict management styles often employed by managers.
This conflict management style involves the manager to accommodate employees to a large extent, at the expense of his/her own comfort. This conflict management style can mean that the manager might compromise on his/her own goals, objectives, and perceived outcomes. This approach can be useful when the manager is an expert and can better manage changes need to manage the situation.
Example: An employee might fail to manage the existing workload, resulting in the manager making other arrangements, such as picking up some of the burden or hiring an Intern or junior officer that will require mentoring and support from the manager.
This approach is unlikely to help the manager and employee to resolve conflict. It can also lead to hindering progress, affecting project goals, and making the situation worse. However, the approach can work if the issue is trivial, and the manager has no chance of effectively resolving it. In such a case, avoiding the issue might allow the situation to get better over time.
Example: An employee appears to be making trivial complaints about a contractor, addressing which can affect the project timeline and lead to unwanted delays and cost overruns. Avoiding the issue might help keep the timeline intact. Once the project tasks are complete, the employee will eventually have nothing left to complain about.
Collaborating managers become partners with their teams to find ways to manage conflict. This method requires a lot of energy and time from the manager, as he/she builds trust and creates an environment where the team learns to collaborate to achieve desired goals and resolve conflict. Such an approach requires all parties sitting down, discussing, and negotiating to resolve conflicts. This approach, if successfully implemented, can lead to long-term success of teams.
Example: Two employees have a disagreement regarding the way a project is implemented, with overlapping domains of work. In such a case, a collaborating approach would mean that the manager helps resolve conflict through discussion, and negotiation to find a win-win solution.
The competing or forcing approach rejects compromise and does not enable space to others until they back down. Such an approach can have its merits and demerits. It’s best to use this approach when the time for lengthy negotiations and discussions isn’t an option and critical decisions need to be made.
Example: Employees demand an ambitious increase in pay scales at a time when the organization is nearing financial crunch and cannot accommodate such a request. In such a case a competing style of conflict management might be necessary, since the organization might not be able to accommodate such a demand, regardless of how strong the pressure may be from employees.
A compromising or negotiating conflict management style aims to find a solution that might be partially satisfying, yet necessary while ensuring some degree of cooperation and assertiveness that can lead to positive continuity in the relationship. Such a style might include opting for a partial win for both sides while agreeing to continue cooperating for achieving desired goals.
Example: Employees at an organization go to strike over poor working conditions, demanding improved safety standards, insurance, and medical cover. In such a case the organization might not be able to immediately implement or afford making too many changes to meet employee expectations. In this example, If the organization and the employees agree upon some aspects, such as investment in improved equipment and changes to the building to ensure employee, safety, while agreeing to revisit other demands later, it will be a compromising style of conflict resolution. Both parties agree to continue working together to achieve business goals, while some aspects of grievances are delayed due to current limitations for later negotiations and discussion.
Recommended: If you are creating presentations for conflict resolution topics, check out our free conflict resolution PowerPoint templates.
5 Conflict Resolution Strategies PowerPoint Template
To showcase the different conflict resolution styles or to present a slide deck on the topic, you can use the 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies PowerPoint Template. This premium template provides individual slides to discuss each of the five conflict resolution styles, with visually appealing graphics.
Understanding conflict resolution and the different styles of resolving conflict can help managers improve their ability to deal with tough situations. Different styles might not only be attributed to various management styles but changing between strategies that are either avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, competing, or compromising might be necessary according to the nature of the conflict and the people involved.