The value of M&A deals, according to CPP, without conflict management methods, 85% of employees experience inevitable conflicts at work. Of those, 29% said they deal with conflict almost constantly. Also, 56% of employees who experience workplace conflict reported it leading them to stress, anxiety, or depression.
Conflict types and causes
Conflicts take different forms in a business setting, including intrapersonal, interpersonal, and inter-group. Intrapersonal, the most difficult to identify, occurs within an individual due to actual or perceived pressures from incompatible goals or expectations. Interpersonal conflict occurs between two or more individuals in opposition to each other. Intergroup conflicts occur between groups within organizations.
Conflicts arise from multiple sources that we can assign across different conflict forms. Failure to introspect, low self-esteem, inability to self-align, difficulty working with others, and low-stress tolerance are all primary sources of intrapersonal conflict. Interpersonal conflicts arise from threats to status, contrasting perceptions, lack of mutual trust, conflicting approaches to organizational change, personality clashes, and colliding values or ideologies. Lastly, the causes of intergroup conflict resemble those of interpersonal conflicts but take place in a larger context. Work interdependence, differing perceptions, increased demand for specialists, and a conflicting tendency of individuals within a group represent the primary causes of intergroup conflict.
In addition to primary sources of conflict, multiple psychological and emotional snares - numerous of them hidden away – can heighten strife and necessitate conflict resolution. Such exacerbations include a) subjective judgment of fairness, b) overconfidence, c) irrational commitment, and d) conflict avoidance.
Cost of unchecked conflict
Unmanaged conflict at work comes at high costs. The first affected area is employee retention. According to data from Randstad US, 58% of US workers have quit or considered it due to a disruptive workplace culture. On the hiring side, 86% of job seekers will avoid companies that have received a poor review from their workforce. It means access to the employment market plummets at only 14% due to persistent conflicts at work! In monetary terms, at ceteris paribus, companies operating at a low retention rate experience four times more expenses than stable companies. And that is just scratching the surface.
According to CMOE (citing the CPP study), 89% of employees, unless managed on conflict, let their conflicts with colleagues escalate. In addition to a low retention rate, this attitude will cause increased absenteeism (with 10% of those workers avoiding attending meetings and another 9% to 25% missing work for multiple days). Furthermore, 27% of people surveyed by the CPP study revealed they witnessed conflict turn into a personal attack. To sum up, in 2021, the cost of workplace conflict was £ 28.5 billion in the UK alone (as reported by Gitnux). Now imagine that on a global scale!
Four effective conflict management methods
Managers should turn to four conflict management methods to avoid individual and business costs of workplace conflicts.* The four conflict management methods are accommodation, compromise, competition, and collaboration.
The accommodation approach is best when one side wishes to indicate a degree of fairness, people want to encourage others to express their opinion, or the issue or problem is more vital to the other party concerned. In the accommodation approach, safeguarding the relationship is more important than arguing. One party should be willing to place the interests of the opposition above its own.
Compromise is an effective conflict management method for achieving agreements between parties who have equal power. It can help in reaching a temporary resolution in more complicated matters. When time or other circumstances are constrained, compromise can be an effective way to achieve a settlement. The main goal of the compromise approach is to find common ground and maintain the relationship. Everybody must give up some claims while gaining others through flexibility and negotiation.
The most effective conflict management method is collaboration. This approach requires trust and commitment from all sides to resolve the conflict. All parties must be willing to empathize and try to understand each other’s situation. Only by working together can the parties fully solve the problem.
Collaboration is a win/win approach. Collaboration is most appropriate when all parties are willing to investigate alternative solutions they may not necessarily think of by themselves. That is especially true when trying to get to the source of problems that have continued for a long time. By collaborating, parties can uphold objectives that cannot be compromised while preserving the relationship. That is often the best course of action when parties from different backgrounds and experiences are involved.
When all other methods have failed and quick, immediate action is needed, the competition approach is best. That is often the case in emergencies, where decisive action is required. Additionally, competition may be the best approach when unpopular changes need implementation and discussing them does not make sense. In these cases, the competition approach can prevent further damage to all parties involved. One party tries to win the conflict through power and dominance in the competition approach.
Conflict at work is inevitable. If left unchecked, it can ruin lives and companies. However, managers can avoid the costs of conflict by implementing effective conflict management methods. Successful conflict management methods include accommodation, compromise, collaboration, and competition. By implementing them in response to relevant scenarios, managers can turn conflict into a source of empowerment.
* We ignored the avoidance conflict management method as it often includes worsening the situation (it is a lose-lose situation).
FAQ: Conflict management methods
In addition to the four (of five) classic conflict management methods, what are some conflict management models called?
Conflict management models include the Harvard method, KULT model, Transactional analysis, the Inner Team, systemic coaching, Type indicator models, conflict escalation according to Friedrich Glasl, the iceberg model, and Nonviolent communication (GKF) according to Marshall Rosenberg.
What are some ways of resolving conflicts?
Conflict resolution processes include negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.
How can you overcome communication blockage in conflicts?
You can overcome communication blockage in conflicts through observations, the share of feelings, share of needs, and specific requests to the other party.