If there are no conflicts in the organizations, we will not have the jobs as Managers. Managing conflicts, in fact, is one of the main duties for managers. In our company, Technoland, Inc., our managers also deal with conflicts. According to our Textbook, Organizational Behavior, there are two categories of conflict approaches. They are Indirect Conflict Management Approaches and Direct Conflict Management Approaches. (Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn 2000) Even thought, some of the approaches contradict with my personal conflict management style, I still totally respect the approaches.
Indirect Conflict Management Approaches
These approaches are commonly used by some of our department mangers and supervisors to avoid direct dealing with personalities. Personally, I do not prefer these approaches. I would avoid using these approaches whenever possible since the overall cost to solve the conflicts would be higher than the direct approaches.
Some managers and supervisors in our company tend to use this approach to solve or reduce conflicts by rearranging and reducing the required contacts between conflict parties. For example, one of our Tech Supports has problem directly handling Sales Team¡¦s requests. To solve this conflict, the Tech Support Supervisor had asked the Sales Team to submit all of the requests directly to him in order to ensure the service quality. Personally, I do agree with this approach since the Tech Support Supervisor¡¦s job load will be increased. Figuring out the root causes and training the Tech Support to fix the causes should be the right actions for the supervisor.
Another conflict management approach commonly used by our supervisors is to report and push the responsibility of solving conflicts back to the department managers. Since the managers might not have the right knowledge about the daily routines, inappropriate actions or decisions might occur. For example, instead of directly replying to a rush order request from a salesperson, the Production Supervisor would direct the request to his manager for final answer. The Operations Manager, on the other hand, has to verify the current production load with the Production Supervisor before replaying to the rush order request. It is very clear to me that the Production Supervisor should be able to work out the final decision with the salesperson.
Altering Scripts and Myths
This approach has been used in our routine Weekly Management Meeting. Department manages would bring out the conflicts during the meetings. All managers in the meetings would have the rights to participate in solving the conflicts. Moreover, action items would be assigned to manages for solving the conflicts. This approach seems to work for me since the major conflicts would be addresses and solve by the management team.
Direct Conflict Management Approaches
Personally, I prefer to use the direct conflict management approached to solve conflicts in our company since the overall costs for solving conflicts would usually be lower compare with the indirect conflict management approaches.
For most of the emotional conflicts, the employees in our company tend to ignore the conflicts to avoid further confrontation between the involving parties. For low priority and small consequence emotional conflicts, I would also agree with this approach. However, for large consequence issues involving with emotional conflicts, I would not use this approach since this approach would not help in solving issues.
In our company, this win-lose approach is widely been used among departments and sub-departments. From this approach, one party would win its desires while the other party would end up in losing its desires. Managers, in our company, tend to use this approach very often to quickly draw conclusions in solving conflicts. The losing party, on the other hand, would usually been assigned with extra job loads by the managers. Even thought, this approach is not the best approach for me, I tend to agree with this approach since the company¡¦s tasks would still be accomplished.
This win-win approach, in fact, is the best approach for dealing and solving with conflicts. In our company, management would spend most of its problem solving time in achieving this win-win situation while dealing with conflicts. For example, our sales team had complained about the ability of the Purchasing Department in fulfilling the orders of hard disk drives in time. Moreover, the sales team had to modify the orders since our buyers were not able to purchase the specified hard disk drives in the orders. The customers, on the other hand, would be bothered with notifications of change orders. Furthermore, some orders would be delayed due to the changes. This conflict was discussed during several of our weekly management meetings. After carefully studying the root causes, our management had ask the Purchasing Department to prepare a Weekly Flash News Letter to sales team including the weekly market availability updates for hard disk drives. For the sales team, their jobs are much easier since the frequency of change order would be lower. The buyer¡¦s job, on the other hand, would be easier as well since the buyer could plan ahead to prepare sufficient safety stocks for the hard disk drives listed in the weekly letters to sales team.
The win-win approach of solving conflicts is the best approach for our company. However, I also understand that we could not solve any conflicts by using this approach since this approach would require more a great amount of attention and time from the company. Moreover, I also believe that any of these approaches would serve different purposes in our organization.
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