When individuals with different values, beliefs or attitudes work closely with one another, it is inevitable that conflict will rear its ugly head. Developing and training your employees in conflict management styles will keep the workplace running smoothly should a conflict arise. Various techniques exist to manage conflict; one such strategy is the collaboration method. Collaboration is an ideal method because both sides of the conflict work toward a "win/win" outcome.
When to Use the Collaboration Strategy
Use a collaboration strategy of conflict resolution whenever you are trying to satisfy both sides. Contrast this with a compromise strategy in which you sacrifice your own needs to satisfy the needs of the opposing side. Whenever it is critical that both sides get what they want (at least in some form or another), think about using collaboration strategy to resolve conflicts. An example of when you might want to use a collaboration strategy would be merging two critical departments of your business into one: Both sides are critical to the success of your business, and therefore both sides must reach a "win/win" situation.
While "win/win" is an ideal solution, overuse of it can lead to time wasting, especially when the conflict is over little items or trivial matters.
Key Factors in a Collaboration Conflict Strategy
The collaboration conflict strategy works well because its goal is to achieve a "win/win" solution. However, this takes time and effort. To facilitate this type of conflict resolution, it is critical that both sides receive plenty of information about each side and each side's position so that educated, competent decisions can be made. This means that both sides must be honest and open in their dealings. Collaboration conflict strategy works best when both sides trust each other and understand that they are working toward a common goal. Team-building exercises, orientation over the issues and informing each side about the issues and the positions is critical to making this type of conflict resolution work. Remember, this style of conflict resolution requires time, effort and energy. Spending too little time on this type of conflict resolution could lead to poor, "quick fix" solutions, including, according to mit.edu, lack of commitment among the team members and loss of innovation.
Skills Needed for a Collaboration Strategy
To make this strategy work, it is critical that each side is effective at listening and processing the arguments and points the other side is making. Further, team members must be team-oriented and must approach the conflict in a non-threatening way. Coming off as too bold, too confident or too aloof is counterproductive to this form of conflict resolution. In order to effectively reach a "win/win" solution, underlying concerns must be identified, positions must be clearly spelled out and creative thinking must be used.
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