Human resource management is a multifaceted undertaking, which requires the manager to address diverse concerns in an entity. Some of the issues addressed under this department include employees’ benefits, allocation of tasks and resolution of conflicts. Employees have become the most crucial resource in countless organizations. A frustrated workforce could have far-reaching impacts on production in an entity. Consequently, the overall profitability would dwindle. It is critical to resolve all conflicts among employees since it is central towards the realization of a motivated workforce. Conflicts often occur in the workplace since employees have different views and ambitions. The disparities in perspectives and ambitions, at times, disintegrate into conflict (Masters & Albright, 2002, p. 11).
Nature of Conflict
Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. Therefore, the management should not only become adept at finding solutions but also identify situations that will degenerate into conflict. Conflict follows a certain cycle as per Pondy’s theory on organizational conflict. Initially, the conflict is passive as there is no physical interaction between parties. However, the conditions that will precipitate into conflict are present. These conditions include ideological differences, frustrations and disparities in personal attributes. Subsequently, parties become aware that the present circumstances will lead to conflicts. In the following stage, parties involved in the conflict take firm stances on the issues generating conflict. At this phase, parties involved and other members of the organization become aware of the conflict. The subsequent stage is the conflict aftermath, whose outcome depends on an organization’s strategy in conflict management (Doherty, 2008, p. 13).
There are various means of resolving conflicts in an organization. One of the ways entails bringing together the two parties in disagreement for negotiations. This has been touted as the best way to address conflicts. Nonetheless, it requires a neutral individual to facilitate the dialogue. The person facilitating conflict resolution should command respect from both parties for a positive outcome (Masters & Albright, 2002, p. 100). During the allocation of resources in an entity, departmental heads may disagree among themselves on the criterion of allocation and the amounts allocated. Such a conflict may have ramifications on cooperation in an organization owing to the unwillingness of the departmental heads to work together. In such a conflict, a top manager may be appointed to resolve the standoff. He/she would host a series of meetings, which will diffuse the conflict.
Negotiations or Dialogue
Initially, the manager facilitating negotiations or dialogue should make remarks, which will set the stage for conflict resolution. Such remarks should indicate that conflict is unescapable in such an organization. However, I think the most critical thing is the efforts instituted to resolve disagreements. The negotiation ought to result in a verdict on the matter that had resulted in the conflict. In the above scenario, dialogue should offer a compromised solution on the allocation of resources. Despite the negotiations, not all parties may emerge satisfied with the solution. Nonetheless, they have to accept the outcome. This method of resolving conflict may be time wasting since negotiations or dialogue between two parties may require a lengthy duration. This may impede decision-making processes in an organization. Nonetheless, most parties have a certain level of satisfaction from such dialogue since the solution results from mutual negotiation. Personally, I find this method apt for conflict resolution that only involves two parties. The facilitator in such a conflict should encourage dialogue between the two parties. This process may fail if the facilitator is partisan.
Conflict in Virtual Workplaces
It is fundamental for managers to understand that conflicts can affect a company negatively if not well addressed. As a result, the manager has to undertake the strenuous process of addressing conflict. Failure to address conflict will result in workforce that does not work cohesively. A conflict has certain positive attributes. First, it brings to the surface emotions that employees have held back owing to issues such as the chain of command. Additionally, through conflict, employees can challenge the existing status quo. Challenging the chain of command may enable the organization to rethink some of its processes that are destabilizing or affecting the workforce. In the current business world, conflicts have become dynamic owing to the diversification of organizations. Companies are now connected through various channels. The increase in connectivity among companies or departments creates additional avenues in which conflict may arise. Virtual workplaces denote some of the avenues created by technological advancement. In such places of work, employees do not meet physically, but they are in constant communication. The key cause of conflict in virtual workplaces is communication breakdown and ideological differences (Sembdner, 2011, p. 11). An organization can address conflicts in such an organization by setting strict rules or standards of communication and engagement. This will ensure that no employee offends the other or resolve issues before they escalate. Additionally, organizations with virtual workplaces should clearly define the job description of each worker. Managers in such organizations should enforce the rules set strictly. Many employees may succumb to the temptation of breaking rules since there is no physical supervision.
Importance of Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are tools that may help managers resolve conflict especially where the parties are in physical contact. Interpersonal skills enable employees to interact and relate well with their colleagues. These skills include the ability to articulate issues, cultivate friendship and sensitivity to people’s feelings. At work, I have witnessed that employees with poor interpersonal skills will disagree with fellow employees on numerous occasions since their skills may limit their communication capacities. One of my friends at work, John, is an exceedingly shy person. Consequently, he fails to express himself appropriately. This has resulted in numerous misunderstandings among my colleagues and John in the past few years. John is an honest employee but lacking in interpersonal skills. Overcoming his shy nature will reduce some of the conflicts that I have constantly witnessed at our offices. At times, other bolder employees normally ridicule John, which has been a key cause of conflict.
Interpersonal Skills in Conflict Resolution
At work, I have witnessed scenarios where fellow managers are in disagreements with their junior employees. Kate hardly agreed on anything with James who was her assistant since she had failed to recommend James for a promotion in our company in the past. I further learnt that James had adopted the notion that Kate was impeding his rise in the corporate ladder. I contacted the human resource department, which provided me with a detailed list of the requirements for the position that James was seeking. In resolving the conflict, I spoke to James who was upset by Kate’s failure to recommend him for the promotion. Kate confirmed to me that James did not meet the requirements. However, she failed to communicate that to him. In this conflict, James and Kate’s failure to open communication lines was the key trigger of the conflict. I resolved the conflict by being able to reach out and allow the two parties to speak out their minds on the disagreement. Gradually, I disclosed to James that he did not meet the requirements for the promotion. Thus, Kate’s recommendation to that position would have been futile.
One of the numerous aspects of corporate governance is public relations. Organizations have to cultivate and nurture their corporate image. A good public image makes it easier for an organization to relate with other stakeholders such as the government, customers and rivals (Glanz, 2006, p.7). Interpersonal skills are imperative in maintaining a good image or relationship. As an employee of a leading corporation, on numerous occasions, I have been sent to clients to enlighten them on our products. Therefore, in such a scenario, I have to engage clients and ensure that they feel that they have received value for the amounts spent on buying our product. Such an undertaking requires me to communicate precisely and deduce the customer’s level of satisfaction. My interaction with the customer will be vital to the organization since it may influence the customer’s future decisions with regard to our products. I have also attended conferences on behalf of my organization. These conferences sought to address matters that are affecting the corporate world such as tax compliance and corporate governance. In such conferences, organizations representatives have to communicate appropriately to ensure that they do not damage the image of the organization or its relationship with other stakeholders.
In conclusion, every organization encounters human resource hurdles such as conflict. Conflict is inevitable since employees will have different traits, skills and varying philosophical inclinations. Such differences will constantly trigger conflict. Therefore, an organization must outline how it will deal with this menace, which arises repeatedly in an organization. If an organization fails to enact measures to address conflict, its workforce will be in turmoil, thus leading to lower productivity. There are various ways of resolving conflict such as negotiations among the parties in conflict. Interpersonal skills are imperative in conflict resolution since they enhance communication, which is critical in the above process. Finally, they also enable managers or employees nurture business relationships since they are agents of their organization.
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