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Essay on Conflict Management Styles

Conflict is inevitable in any organization. People are hired to perform for an organization because they are qualified and prepared to do the job. With that qualification and preparation comes a sense of self-confidence. These employees believe that their solutions and ideas are right for solving the problem, and this is where conflict can come in. When several employees have different suggestions for solving a problem, and they all feel as though their suggestion is the best, then how does the company decide which solution is best? Companies must have management that are adept at managing conflict. Our text defines conflict resolution as a situation in which the underlying reasons for a given destructive conflict are eliminated. This paper will discuss the conflict management approaches used at Texas Instruments, and will compare these approaches to my personal conflict management style (based on my conflict management assessment).

Texas Instruments is a large company with many employees. This staff is also very diverse in culture, race, gender, and religion. This is a successful recipe for creating conflicts. Due to this, many approaches to conflict management can be seen. The most common indirect approach seen is hierarchical referral. When two employees disagree about something and cannot work it out amongst themselves, they regularly schedule a sit down appointment with a manager. This manager is often empowered to make the decision that will end the conflict. As the text suggests, this method is not always successful in the long term, because the managers are commonly not in touch with the everyday affairs that create the conflict. So this conflict is not really solved, but only patched for a short amount of time, and usually the conflict will cause the manager to “take sides” and document the employee with whom they disagree with as a “problem”. With enough documentation, they will eventually remove the employee as their method for ending any reoccurring conflict.

There are also some direct conflict management approaches utilized at Texas Instruments. Our text says, “Compromise occurs when each party gives up something of value to the other. As a result of no one getting its full desires, the antecedent conditions for future conflicts are established”. Compromise is stressed by management as the best direct method for conflict resolution. If compromise cannot be found directly between the two employees or groups involved in the conflict, then a manager will act as a mediator to help guide to the compromise. Normally, this method succeeds to resolve most conflicts at Texas Instruments. If compromise still cannot be reached, then it quickly turns into a win-lose conflict. Internal politics dictates that one party will usually be in the favor of the direct manager for one reason or another, such that they will declare the party in favor as the victor in the conflict. Normally, the manager will ensure that the victorious party concedes something to the losing party, so that there is no appearance of “playing favorites” shown, although often it is very clear which side the manager is on.

My conflict assessment results (Competing-12, Collaborating-11, Accommodating-9, Compromising-8, Avoiding-6) suggest a person who is quite confused! All right, maybe instead of confusion, it just suggests flexibility. My conflict management styles are very dependent on the situation. You will notice that competing and collaborating styles are both running side by side on my assessment. This represents me pretty well. When I am involved in conflict, I regularly feel that my position in the conflict is the strongest and that I will convince my opposition to see things my way. At the same time, I am humble enough to listen to my opposition with an open mind, and I am willing to concede if their argument is viable and will eliminate any damaging conflict. This is a trait that I feel makes me a good match for Texas Instruments. The company has the same stance on reaching compromise that I do. We both understand that conflict can be positive because it can stimulate new ideas, but we also both realize that compromise is ultimately the best method for maintaining a peaceful, productive culture.

I have worked at Texas Instruments now for nearly ten years and there is no doubt that I would not still be there if my philosophy on conflict management was not supported by the company. People who buck the system do not last and are documented out of the company, and most deservedly so. I do not conform to a compromising style to keep my job. I do so because that is the way I am, and I think it has a lot to do with the way I was raised. I was always taught to be confident about everything I do, but to also be sensitive to others, and this is the approach I take in my personal and professional life to this day.

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