As individuals we work with people, interact with them and might disagree or agree with them on issues. Conflict management means putting in place ways that reduces bad aspects of conflict and raising the good aspects of it at standards the same or higher than the place where the conflict took place. Additionally, conflict management seeks to improve learning and group results, that is capability or performance in a business environment (Ra him, 2002). People might disagree in decision making because they might have ideas of their own. Conflict may be important to groups and businesses, when managed well, it increases group results (e.g. Alpert, Osvaldo, & Law, 2000; Booker & Jame son, 2001; Ra-him & Bono ma, 1979; Kuhn & Poole, 2000; Church & Marks, 2001). Part 1 of this paper explains conflict, it’s types and my experience of it at Mining Building and Contractors Ltd ( MBC,Obuasi), Ghana and a conclusion at the end. Part 2 of this paper explains building trust, relationships and communications, the importance of these skills to an organization as well as a personal reflection on these skills and a conclusion.
Conflict may be defined as a basic variance between individuals due to differences of opinions, ideas, beliefs, values, needs or objectives.
Types of Conflict
Intrapersonal It is a conflict that develops within an individual when he argues with himself about something. It could be simple as wanting to use office item for personal use when he knows he should’t be doing that.
Interpersonal It is a conflict between two separate individuals, this form of conflict is what people typically have in mind when they think of conflict.
Functional Ambiguity and role specifications in organizations could create problems.
Intergroup This conflict normally happens in the cases of various ethnic or racial groups. Each group could feel threatened and may feel that their respective culture is not duly respected.
Conflict management is about helping improve the positive aspects of conflicts. It does not necessarily mean doing away with conflicts.
I worked at MBC Ltd, Obuasi with a colleague at the Accounts Office. My colleague’s uncle was the Marketing Manager but wasn’t in good terms with Mr. Ocloo, the Accountant, who was our boss. I got to know our boss was someone who was really passionate about his work and disliked lazy and insolent people. I built a strong relationship with my boss and always listened to and respected his views. My boss observed my colleague most of the time missing at the office, this continued for a few weeks. My colleague had been visiting his uncle during periods which there were no work at the office. One day I returned from an errand to find out my colleague had had a confrontation with our boss because of his continuous absence during working hours. He also had reported the case to his uncle who had come and exchanged words with our boss and had worsened the situation. I quickly called my colleague and spoke to him about the way our boss had observed him for a long period before voicing out his frustration. I recommended to him outside apologizing to our boss. I also advised him to go back to his uncle’s office to calm him down. I then ensured he explained things to his uncle and admit it was his fault to make peace. I later talked to my boss for hours explaining that, my colleague was at fault but he really left when we had finished with our work. I wanted to make sure the case does not escalate to higher levels and wanted it solved that day. It wasn’t easy because we had to stay behind after office hours when everyone had left to resolve the issue. Both my colleague and his uncle came back with my colleague apologizing and acknowledging the mistake that brought about the conflict. I helped solve the solution because it would have really developed into a real mix-up which would have brought other parties and disciplines into the matter.
Every day we work with people, who might wrong us or rub us in a way. I personally think conflict is unavoidable but can be managed. At the workplace individuals should always be thoughtful and always try to negotiate with fellow workers to resolve conflicts. Workers must be sensitive to the feelings of other workers and understand that individuals may react to anger, fear and frustration. Workers should provide viable solutions to problems amongst themselves. Mangers should identify and analyse the reason for conflict to understand the root cause of conflict. Any solution for resolving the issue should be aimed at doing away with the root cause. Managers need to have good communication skills to be able to empathize with all the concerned parties and put across their solutions convincingly. Conflicts should be resolved in a healthy way without favouring any individual; all parties involved should be treated with respect and spoken to politely. Managing conflict effectively is valuable in the progress of an organization.
Nowadays, businesses are looking for ways to help maintain trust, build good relationships and acquire communication skills in helping them achieve growth in their workplace. Trust is explained as the condition of preparedness for an interaction with something or someone without protection (Duane C. Tway, Jr.,1994). Trust, relationships and communication at the workplace is very essential to the success of a business and wellbeing of people at work. Trust is seen by others as equivalent to trustworthiness, explaining trust in the subject of individual traits that stimulate positive expectations on other individuals behalf(e.g., Butler & Cantrell, 1984; McKnight et al., 1998).Organisational relationships can be grouped into functions, departments and teams; union, staff and the management. These relationships are influenced by how people individually treat each other in the workplace, http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/bestpractice/prc/infosheets/GPG-WP-RELATIONSHIP.pdf (Accessed on 03/12/12). Culture of trust is beneficial in disorganized and uncertain places, (Bjerke, 1999).
Why the need for Building Trust, Relationships & Communication?
Effective communication, trust and good relationship with workers is an organization is vital in attaining results, eliminating stress and providing a vibrant atmosphere where workers feel free to ask for help, share opinions and also actively contribute in progress of organization. These skills help encourage team members encourage each other and work efficiently and effectively. Fostering these skills in the workplace enhances decision making and implementation in an organisation. Trust gives way to developing a relationship more effective between the trustor and trustee (Blau, 1964). To build successful relationships in workplaces involves trust. Trust brings about efficient communication, healthy relationships and employee motivation in an organization. Having these elements at the workplace motivates employees to work harder. The existence of these skills in the workplace makes organizational goals easy to achieve. Any organisation that excels in these skills is able to get things done progressively and successfully.
When I started work at MBC Ltd, (Obuasi), the first thing I did was to learn and quickly adapt to the organisational behaviour and culture. The next thing was to win the trust of fellow workers and build good communication levels and relationships with them. I was humble, obedient and was always eager to work. I became more involved in issues of workers in the company. This made me my boss favourite and made him sometimes go to the extent of discussing his personal issues with me. I had already won his trust and had built a vibrant relationship with him. As a new worker of the company, it was not done overnight but through hard work I was able to achieve it. If I saw workers not in good terms at work, I will quickly try to address it. I will have a conversation with the people involved and if it was still not working, I will try a higher authority. I always made sure that no party felt betrayed or offended but it was always a win-win case. I also kept private information from others confidential. When we had finished with work and the place seemed boring I would suggest a group meeting where we thrived on issues to be addressed at the office. We did this at least two times and really helped us a lot and always brought the best in us. I suggested this to fellow workers but did not work at start because some managers did not agree with the idea. Gradually interest for it grew and the company now holds a special meeting once every month where selected workers from various departments share views and discuss problems facing them to managers. This really improved communication and enhanced good relationships and trust in the organization.
Communication, trust and relationships can be improved in all workplaces, no matter the size of the company. The basis of an individual’s interaction in the workplace is through these skills. These skills are very important and should be amalgamated into team building in every organization. Individuals should be encouraged to stop engaging in activities that will reduce trust existing between workers. Workshops and meetings should be organized to prepare and educate workers on developing good communication skills and fostering healthy relationships among themselves. It is never easy to impress or satisfy everyone at the workplace because we are human but we must also know that it takes a lot of effort to fix a broken relationship or trust that existed between workers than to prevent it from happening. If any company wants to move from being just a working group to a high performing one these skills must be taking seriously. None of us is perfect but we can be much more effective and efficient if we work on building good relations, having easy and simple communication systems and being trustworthy. This will inspire and influence others to help build a successful business environment.