Resolving Workplace Conflict: Causes and Solutions - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1804 Words
Date:  2022-12-27


Workplace conflict is defined as a state of disagreement caused by an actual or perceived opposition of interests, values, and needs between parties in a working environment. Workplace complaints leading to conflict can arise from disagreement over policies and procedures, management decisions as well as individual entitlements. Other causes are poor communication, poor performance by some employees thus burdening others and competition over scarce resources. Conflicts can be between individuals or between individual and groups or between groups. Unresolved conflict lays the ground for delayed decisions, deadlocks, sabotage, poor performance and reduces employee collaboration an satisfaction. Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, and workplace management must have strategies to which they must use to respond to conflict constructively. Various scholars have suggested strategies that could resolve organizational conflict such as improve policies, changing the reward system and minimizing authority among others. This paper seeks to expound on the most effective conflict strategies in the workplace.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Enough literature has shown that employee voice which is a means by which people communicate their views to the employer can help in influencing matters that affect them at the workplace. Gramberg, Teicher, Bamber, and Cooper (2017) examined employee voice and how it influenced their decision to quit. In their research, they examined 773 respondents through an online survey. In their study, they found that employee voice was an important condition in conflict resolution and significantly reduced the intention to quit (Gramberg et al., 2017). They also noted that employee voice was beneficial in that it directly reduced employee turnover intention. An employee that is unable to speak out experiences negative emotions which demotivates them leading to poor productivity and performance. Voice is the extent to which a worker is able to articulate their dissatisfaction with the management and contribute to decision making. This research shows that one of the most effective ways to solve conflict is by listening to employee's opinions regarding how thing are run in the firm.

Moreover, "employee voice" as a strategy in conflict management is supported by Detert & Burris, (2007) who note when employees feel safe to voice their concerns and contribute honestly to decision the workplace conflict is greatly minimized. Their research findings are worth consideration as they involved a sample size of 3, 149 employees and 223 managers in a restaurant chain (Detert & Burris, 2007). In voicing concerns, the tone is crucial. Supervisors in communicating a firm and even tone are essential so as not to come across as disrespectful or without losing temper.

Additionally, organizations should also encourage employees to address issues immediately and openly to avoid the accumulation of resentment. However, articulating issues need to be done in a manner that those to whom issues are directed at can also listen. For example, an employee who raises a salary review complains but does not want to listen to management's explanation that the year's revenues have dipped. This study confirms that employees and supervisors should recognize and respect personal differences. "Employee voice" is effective is indeed an effective strategy in conflict management in the workplace as employees are can voice their issues without fear.

In a conflict that can be resolved by sharing an outcome or a goal, a compromising style is effective. The style is effective in that there are no winners and losers because each conflicting parties give up something of value for a concession. Samantara, (2004) analyzed the effectiveness of different conflict resolution style and their effectiveness. The author notes that though the style was effective in solving some problems it produced mixed results in that it affected creativity and innovation. The style is effective in solving dispute arising from responsibility sharing or where employees want to solve the conflict in which they both lay a claim on a benefit.

Workplace conflict is interesting since everyone is an interested party. For example, in a conflict where the best employee has erred, but the management sides with them since the conflict could see them quit. Workplace conflict is also characterized by everyone defending their interest. It, therefore, follows that the use of a neutral party to act as a facilitator will ease the tension. Huan and Yazdanifard, (2012) who reviewed articles on workplace conflict noted that mediation was an effective method in resolving conflict. They noted that 38 percent of the firms sought external mediators compared to 8.6 percent who used internal mediators (Huan & Yazdanifard, 2012). They note that meditation is a better alternative to litigation as it is less costly and timelier in the dispute resolution process. In conflicts that could potentially harm the image of the firm, mediation is normally used to the process is private. This benefits the employer in that they are not publicly exposed to their wrongdoing.

Other notable benefits mediation stems in its ability to develop option parties had not considered and creates an environment that shuns confrontation and encouraging discussion. However, there exists a gap in the mediation process in that several studies question the ability of private mediators to enforce employment law in the face of courts. This argument calls for a neutrality factor in the mediators. Van Gramberg and Teicher (2006) have in their research formulated for neutrality and impartiality in workplace conflict resolution. They note that mediators should have no direct interest in the outcome, no prior knowledge of the conflict, will not use their role to influence decision making and that they will act fairly.

Moreover, though Huan et al. (2012), noted that few firms used internal mediators, Van Gramberg et al. (2006) confirm the assertion and argues that Human Resource manager neutrality is difficult to achieve. They also hold those outside mediators are more likely to solve a conflict that internal mediators. It, therefore, stands to reason, that mediation is effective in conflict management in that each party sacrifices something to lose for them to reach an agreement.

In any conflict resolution, the outcome is dependent on the faith that the other party is willing to reason, sacrifice and thereby reach an agreement. Put differently trust is crucial for parties to reach an agreement. Trust in itself is an inner assurance. Though trust may begin as a belief, it develops into quality in a relationship from former agreements that have been made and kept over and over again. A first-time conflict should be taken a step into establishing trust. In a recent paper by Solaja (2018), the author argues that trust can be an effective tool in conflict management at the workplace. The article asserts that trust is "the willingness of one party to be susceptible to the action of another party (say B) based on the expectation that party B will carry out important activities that will benefit both parties irrespective of whether party A will be in a position to coordinate actions of party B " (Solaja, 2018).

The study which reviewed articles on trust, notes that there exists a correlation between organizational trust and organizational conflict in that it determines the level of cooperation in an organization. Trust as a tool works in that it gives the other party the benefit of the doubt on issues that may cause conflict and curbs a scenario where either of them jumps into a conclusion. Workplace trust in conflict management translates to openness and accuracy in communication between the parties. It also cultivates an environment where parties are ready to incur the risk of addressing potential issues before negative sentiments emerge.

Unlike Solaja (2018) whose argument is based on using trust to solve a conflict, Hempel, Zhang, and Tjosvold, (2009) bring a different argument by using trust as a strategy in conflict avoidance. Hemple et al. (2009) collected data from multiple respondent surveys in high technology in a bid to determine ways that those firms solved conflict to strengthen their trusting relationships. The research argues that a cooperative approach in resolving conflict as well as avoidance of win-lose approaches to conflict positively helped built a foundation of trust in subsequent conflicts. The article notes that though its argument is based on a collective society point of view, it recommends that the organizations in the West can resolve conflict with mutual benefit in mind thereby developing affect-based trust. Trust is an effective strategy in that it not only solves an ongoing conflict but also acts as a strategy in conflict avoidance. Moreover, it establishes precedence in that future conflict will depend on whether the current trust was fruitful.

The outcome of a conflict resolution is dependent on how parties are reacting to the emotions of the other party. For example, an engagement with an angry partner is different from an engagement with a teary partner. Emotional intelligence constitutes the ability to identify and manage one's emotion as well as the emotions of others. Emotion is a determinant factor and helps shape the nature of human interactions. Kumari (2015) noted that emotional intelligence predicted the conflict resolution style that was effective.

The study was carried out through a survey of middle-level employees. The research found that emotional intelligence predicted compromise ad avoidance approach styles. The research notes that individuals with sound emotional perception and emotional management skills can engage in conflict resolution by alternating between approach and avoidance styles. When engaging highly motivated individuals, compromise style is advised as such individuals are opportunity seekers and are obsessed with getting results.

A similar study was conducted by Awasthi, and Yadav, (2016), to determine whether emotional intelligence could predict the conflict resolution style among public sector employees. The study found that emotional intelligence was high among public sector employees and that they mostly used collaborating/problem-solving style. The research also noted that they used accommodating and avoiding style and rarely used competing styles in conflict resolution. The research contradicts the Kumari (2015) research on emotionally intelligent using a compromising style by arguing they exhibited less of shark type behavior. They, however, agree emotional intelligence could predict the approach to be used. The use of emotional intelligence is an effective strategy in conflict management as it informs the best method to be used. Moreover, HR managers can often gauge the emotion of the aggrieved partners and employ the method effortlessly.

Workplaces are bound to have many conflicts at the individual level or at the departmental level. However, it is not feasible for parties to engage in every argument they are drawn to. The HR managers should be in a position to discriminate the kind of conflict to resolve. It also stands to reason that some conflicts are short-lived and may not necessarily affect the performance of employees. Moreover, conflict with difficult people is bound to escalate or each no conclusion. In such scenarios, parties should "agree to disagree." The strategy of "agree to disagree" calls for parties to respect others perspective without giving up their own. This is different from compromise and parties take a hardline.

Holton (1998) notes in the chapter "Can We Agree to Disagree?", that administrators must choose carefully when to...

Cite this page

Resolving Workplace Conflict: Causes and Solutions - Research Paper. (2022, Dec 27). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism