Conflict arises in personal and professional settings and the ability to manage conflict successfully impacts career development and healthy relationships. This conflict management course is ideal for managers, those who work in human resources or anyone keen to know how to manage conflict in a variety of settings.
The Conflict Management Program will give you insights into constructive conflict, approaches to anger, anger management, cognitive restructuring, listening strategies for conflict resolution and the characteristics of effective mediation and negotiation behaviour.
You will also learn about the mediation process, preparation for a facilitation meeting, stress management response programs, dealing with power imbalances, restorative practices, group conflict management and how to respond in a crisis.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a conflict management course include:
- Learning about conflict management and anger
- Exploring how to develop effective negotiation skills
- Gaining an understanding of destructive and constructive conflict
- Studying the main sources of conflict, conflict handling techniques and the conflict management model
- Learning about ground rules, summarising/paraphrasing and reframing and acknowledging
- Exploring emotions, separating people from the problem and traps for listeners
- Gaining an understanding of negotiation and conflicting parties voluntarily discussing their differences
- Studying the establishment group, the community group, bargaining in negotiations, win-win bargaining and integrative bargaining
- Examining how to be a skilled negotiator, the joint problem-solving approach and characteristics of effective negotiating behaviour
- Understanding strategies when negotiation discussions get bogged down
- Attaining knowledge off negotiation mistakes, dealing with difficult people and finding a solution
- Gaining insights into mediation, the mediator’s responsibilities, the mediation process and the mediation models 1 and 2
- Learning about problem definition, teamwork, caucus meeting and the advantages and disadvantages of caucuses
- Exploring the agreement, information gathering and stating the problem
- Gaining an understanding of identifying the problem, bargaining and generating options and reaching an agreement
- Studying the advantages and disadvantages of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
- Examining facilitation, disputing parties to communicate clearly and constructively and preparing for a facilitation meeting
- Understanding group memory and the attributes of a good facilitator
- Attaining knowledge of settling behaviours, stress, the fight or flight response and the symptoms and effects of stress
- Gaining insights into conflict management and stress management response programs
- Learning about balance of power, power imbalance and the power of skill and knowledge
- Exploring negotiating and problem solving skills
- Gaining an understanding of the power of commitment, legitimacy and a good relationship
- Exploring how to conduct structured exercises in small groups and prepare and plan for contingencies
- Gaining an understanding of facilitating learning, negotiating the design, playing psychological games and ending with closure
- Studying crisis analysis and responses and methods to deal with different types of crises
- Examining guidelines for approaching a crisis situation, interventions, debriefing models and psychological debriefing
Main Sources of Workplace Conflict
As you’ll learn in our conflict management course, conflict occurs when there is a perception of incompatible interests between workplace participants. The first step to uncovering workplace conflict is to consider the typical sources of conflict. They include:
Interpersonal conflict is the most apparent form of conflict in the workplace, and it typically manifests in rumours, gossip and office politics. Clashing personality styles, colleagues bringing their stresses from home into work and varying ideas about personal success can also cause conflict. Personality testing instruments like Myers-Briggs and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument can help to uncover such sources of conflict as can focus groups, interviews and confidential surveys.
Sources of conflict relating to hierarchy and the inability to resolve conflicting interests are predominant in most workplaces. Supervisor/employee and labour/management tensions can also be heightened by power differences as can differences in supervisory styles. Conflict can also arise over work style clashes, different levels of tolerance for risk taking, pay equity conflict, varying views on accountability, resource allocation and the distribution of workload, benefits and duties. Again focus groups, surveys and interviews can help reveal these sources of conflict.
The modern workplace has significant levels of conflict and stress related to downsizing, change-management, changing work methodologies and technological change. Many workplaces suffer from constant re-organisation, leading to further conflict and stress. Typically, the more change and the more recent the change, the more likely it is that there will be significant conflict.
Conflict can arise from external factors such as changing markets, recession, the effects of free trade between countries and domestic and foreign competition. Public and non-profit workplaces can face political pressures and demands from special interest groups. A change in government can have a tremendous impact, especially on public and not-for-profit organisations in terms of funding levels for workplaces that are dependent upon government.
Effective Dispute Resolution
Conflict can happen at any workplace and if workers can’t agree on a way forward or if this dispute is serious, a more formal approach may be needed. A conflict management course is a great start towards giving you insights into “best practice” approaches to fair, simple, transparent and confidential dispute resolution procedures.
All workplaces can enjoy the benefits of a “best practice” approach, which can include:
- greater employee productivity through increased job satisfaction
- improved employee retention
- reduced stress for employees and managers
- better relationships with employees
- reducing the costs that come from resolving disputes externally, such as legal fees
Dispute resolution is how disputes are brought to an end. This can occur through:
- a negotiated outcome, where the parties concerned resolve the issue themselves
- a mediated outcome, where an independent mediator helps the parties arrive at their own agreement, or
- an adjudicated or arbitrated outcome, where a court or independent arbitrator decides how the dispute should be resolved and makes an order or binding decision to that effect.
A Simple Process
A good dispute resolution process promotes fairness. If people feel they are fairly treated, then it is more likely they will be engaged in their work and motivated to contribute. Whatever the size or type of organisation, the best dispute resolution processes will:
- Be simple and credible. It’s important your employees know their grievances or issues will be taken seriously.
- Be sensitive. Employees want to be reassured their issue will be handled confidentially, and that raising a grievance or issue will not harm their job prospects.
- Seek clarification. Enable the issues and facts in dispute to be clarified but also encourage open expression of opinions and recognise the importance of feelings.
- Encourage listening. Listening to an employee will draw out what the dispute is really about. It might be about issues that are quite different from the issues initially raised by the employee. It might be due to a simple misunderstanding. Good listening will help managers determine the real issues and work out how they can be best resolved. A good dispute resolution process reassures employees that they are being heard.
- Set expectations. Begin with an expectation that the dispute can be resolved between the people concerned, while also recognising that more serious issues may need to be escalated.
- Establish an escalation process. Provide a path for escalation if the dispute can’t be resolved by discussion with the employee. It won’t always be possible to escalate the dispute through senior management. If this is the case and you’re unable to resolve the dispute, you could seek third-party assistance to help resolve the matter.
- Be consistent. Consistency is a key aspect of a credible dispute resolution process. Employees need to know that the business will approach all disputes with the same objectivity and organisational values and that, wherever possible, disputes will be resolved by the same process.
- Be quick. Prompt resolution of disputes is always desirable. It shows that the employer takes dispute resolution seriously. The longer unresolved disputes exist, the greater the chances of ongoing conflict or distractions in the workplace.
- Be transparent. Employees must know what the process is, understand the steps, and know what the potential outcomes are.
Best Practice Checklist
A best practice workplace involves more than just understanding and complying with the law.
This checklist will help you work at best practice when managing disputes and complaints within your business:
- Develop a policy – Develop a dispute resolution policy that suits your business. This will help ensure the dispute resolution process is consistent, fair and works for both the employees and the business.
- Provide training – Make sure employees and managers know about the dispute resolution process and how to use it. This can be done by providing training and awareness sessions.
- Communicate – Talk with your employees. Regular communication is important as it helps to build trust and good working relationships.
- Listen to concerns – Take all concerns seriously. Listen to your employees and show them that you take their concerns seriously. Although some issues might seem minor at first, they could be an indication of a larger problem.
- Regular meetings – Hold regular meetings. These allow you to communicate current issues, workplace rules and changes.
- Be proactive – Proactively deal with any workplace issues. Many workplace conflicts happen because of misunderstandings and can be resolved more easily if discussed at an early stage.
Develop tactics that will empower you to achieve positive outcomes during conflict in your personal and professional life with a conflict management course such as our Conflict Management Program.