The communication climate in an organisation is important because it will determine whether it is effective and successful or not.
Conflict is something we get plenty of in schools. Any organisation experiences conflict and it would be hard to imagine a place that doesn’t.
Just as it would be dangerous for a school to have too many conflicts, it wouldn’t be good if a school didn’t have any at all. Conflict is necessary for growth because differences of opinion can fuel challenge and change.
Rahim (1979) classified organisational conflict as intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, and intergroup:
Occurs when an organisational member is required to perform certain tasks and roles that do not match their expertise, interests, goals, and values. This is also known as intra-individual or intra-psychic conflict.
- Interpersonal conflict
This refers to conflict between two or more interacting individuals, as manifestation of incompatibility, disagreement or differences. This is also known as dyadic conflict.
- Intragroup Conflict
This is conflict among members of a group or between two or more subgroups within a group regarding goals, tasks and procedures. It can also occur as a result of incompatibilities or disagreements between some or all members of a group and its leader.
- Intergroup Conflict
This refers to conflict between two or more units, divisions, departments or groups within an organisation in relation to tasks, resources and information.
Rahim says that management of organisational conflicts involves diagnosis and intervention to maintain a moderate amount of conflict and help the organisational members learn various styles for effective handling of different conflict situations.
Rahim says there are five conflict management styles of avoiding, compromising dominating, integrating, and obliging:
1. The Integrating style
This approach indicates a high concern for self and others. It involves collaboration between those concerned that are willing to reach a mutual and acceptable solution through openness, exchange of information, examination and exploration of differences for arriving at a constructive solution.
Two distinctive elements of this style are suggested
1) confrontation that is characterised by open communication, clarify misunderstanding, examining the underlying causes of conflicts.
2) confrontation is considered as prerequisite of problem solving that implies the identification of appropriate solutions aiming to provide maximum and reciprocal satisfaction of concern of parties involved.
2. The obliging style
This accommodating approach indicates low concern for self and high concern for others. An obliging person and neglects and sacrifices personal concern so to satisfy the concern of the other party. This style is non-confrontational characterised by the attempt of minimising differences and emphasising commonalities. The obliging style involves absorbing conflict to satisfy the concern of the other party and may take the of selfless generosity, charity, or obedience to the party’s order.
3. Dominating Style
This is a competing style with a high concern for self and a low concern for others. Those adopting this style stand up for their rights and ignore others’ needs. They try to defend their personal positions. This is a win-lose style expression of a forcing behaviour.
4. The avoiding style
This is a style of management that indicates low concern for self and others. It is associated with withdrawal, passing the buck, suppression and sidestepping situations. This may take the form of postponing an issue until a better time or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.
5. The compromising style
This indicates concern for self and others and sees both parties involved in give and-take or sharing solutions. In this style of management both parties accept to give up something to make mutually acceptable decisions.
Clearly conflict is going to happen in any environment but it is when conflict turns into incivility the real problems start. In a little shop of horrors school incivility may be common and can be characterised by exclusionary behaviour, gossiping, hostility and even privacy invasion.
How is conflict handled where you work? What style do you adopt when managing conflict?