Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr
Conflict is defined as process that begins when one party perceives than another party has affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.
The parties to it must perceive conflict; whether or not the conflict exists is a perception issue. If no one is aware of a conflict, then it is generally agreed that no conflict exists.
Conflict can either be functional or dysfunctional. Functional Conflicts supports the goals of the group and improves its performance. It is constructive in nature. Functional conflict can be either a task conflict or process conflict. Task conflict is over the context and goals of the work. Process conflicts are over how work gets done.
Dysfunctional conflicts hinder group performance. It is destructive in nature. It includes relationship conflict, which is based on interpersonal relationships.
There are various conflicts resolution techniques. These include:
1) Problem Solving: Face to face meeting of the conflicting parties for the purpose of identifying the problem and resolving it through open discussion.
2) Super ordinate goals: Creating a shared goal that cannot be attained without the cooperation of each of the conflicting parties.
3) Expansion of resources: When a conflict is caused by the scarcity of a resources- say –money. Promotion opportunities, office space- expansion of the resource can create win- win solutions.
4) Avoidance: Withdraw from or suppression of, the conflict.
5) Smoothing: Playing down differences while emphasizing common interest between the conflicting parties.
6) Compromise: Each party to the conflicts gives up something of value.
7) Authoritative Command: Management uses its formal authority to resolve the conflict and then communicates its desires to the parties involved.
8)Altering the human variables: Using behavioral change technique such as human relations training to alter attitudes and behaviors that cause conflict.
9)Altering the structural variables: Changing the formal organization structure and interaction patterns of conflicting parties through job redesign, transfers, creation of coordination positions and the like.
In order to differentiate functional and dysfunctional conflict, it is necessary to look into type of conflict.
Specifically , there are three types: tasks relationship and process
Task conflict : relates to the contents and goals of the work
Relationship Conflict: focuses on interpersonal relationship.
Process conflict: relates to how work gets done.
Studies demonstrate that relationship conflicts are almost always dysfunctional. It appears that the friction and interpersonal hostilities inherent in relationship conflicts increase personality clashes and decrease mutual understanding which hinders the completion of organizational tasks. On the other hand, low level of process conflict and low to moderate level of tasks conflicts are functional.