i387c managing information services and organizations





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Module 2. Unit 4: Conflict Management

Every man is in a state of conflict, owing to his attempt to reconcile himself and his relationship with life to his conception of harmony. This conflict makes his soul a battlefield, where the forces that wish this reconciliation fight those that do not and reject the alternative solutions they offer. Works of art are attempts to fight out this conflict in the imaginative world. Rebecca West, 1926

Is there any emotionally healthy person in the world who really enjoys conflict? Thomas Crum (1987) aims to dispel the myth that conflict is negative. For example, nature uses conflict as a motivator for change. Perhaps we should consider embracing conflict as a way to nurture growth in ourselves and in our relationships with others; viewing conflict as natural rather than positive or negative. Why not take this approach rather than avoiding conflict at all costs? For the effective manager avoiding conflict is NOT an option.

Probably all of us have all experienced conflict at sometime or another in our work lives. As a manager and as a team member, we have a responsibility to identify problems or conflict areas and begin to resolve the problem or conflict. Often conflict arises from ill-defined or misunderstood goals or from a lack of focus for a team or an employee. More times than not the conflict results from lack of communication or miscommunication among members of a work group. The ability to effectively lead a team or work group requires that you first identify the problem or the root of the conflict.

How you personally respond to conflict is critical to working toward resolution of a problem. Many times over the years I've heard students comment that they never want to be a manager because they hate conflict. At some point in all of our professional careers we will find ourselves in the role of being a leader. In this role we may well be asked to resolve a conflict. The following chart of very practical tips for managing conflict is adapted from the Harvard ManageMentor on Leading a Team.

Steps to Conflict Resolution

  1. Identify the conflict or problem.
  2. Do fact-finding separately with each individual involved.
  3. Bring parties together to mediate a solution.
  4. Explain consequences if problem persists.
  5. If mediation is successful, conflict can be resolved or at least reduced.
  6. If mediation is not successful, may need to establish a set of ground rules
  7. If problems continue, may have to take more severe steps to remove or replace one or both parties.

Group leaders and managers should regularly and sincerely recognize and reinforce excellence in the work place. Model to others mature, constructive ways to resolve conflict.

==> Continue to Module 3 Unit 1





Review the section of the Quinn text on managing conflict in Chapter 3, The Facilitator Role, p. 86-102.

Review the Career Services workshop material on how to build a strong resume.


Complete the Managing Conflict Assessment on p. 86-87 in Quinn.

Begin work on your resume for your e-portfolio.

Discussion Board Go to the discussion forum entitled Managing Conflict and participate in a class discussion focusing on the questions outlined there.
Due June 14 11:30pm
Value Participation
thanks to patrick williams for template design
Last update 7 june 2006