Conflict Management Strategies Applied by an Organization in Zimbabwe in Christmas Situation: Analytical Essay

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Evaluate the conflict management strategies applied by an organization of your choice in Zimbabwe


Conflict is present in group dynamics. Whenever people are brought together as a group to work on a project or in the workplace, conflict in inevitable. This is because of differing work ethics, goals, needs, or attitudes. Every manager, therefore, requires skills in managing their team in order to resolve conflicts as they arise in the workplace. Conflict can be either functional or dysfunctional. Functional conflict is also known as constructive conflict. Dysfunctional conflict can be described as destructive conflict. It is important that any conflict that arises is dealt with quickly and professionally to avoid the issues affecting morale and productivity. Unresolved conflicts waste time and energy and reduce productivity and cooperation among the people with whom you work. In contrast, when conflicts are resolved, they strengthen relationships and improve the performance of everyone involved (Kim, Nicotera, and McNulty, 2015). This discourse will evaluate the conflict management strategies applied by Chloride Zimbabwe in its day today handling of conflict within its environment.


Views of Conflict

Verma, (1998) explains the following views of conflict

(i) The traditional view (the 1930s-1940s)

The traditional view assumes that conflict is bad, always has a negative impact, and leads to declines in performance as the level of conflict increases. Therefore, conflict must therefore be avoided. According to this view, conflict is closely associated with such terms as violence, destruction, and irrationality according to this view. Conflict in the traditional view must be reduced, suppressed or eliminated at work places. It is therefore the duty of the manager free the organization of any conflict, often using an authoritarian approach.

(ii) Human relations view

The belief that conflict is a natural and inevitable outcome in any group. Another view is the behavioral or contemporary view, also known as the human relations view, it emerged in the late 1940s and held sway through the 1970s. It contends that conflict is natural and inevitable in all organizations and that it may have either a positive or a negative effect, depending on how the conflict is handled. Performance may increase with conflict, but only up to a certain extent, and then decline if conflict is allowed to increase further or is left unresolved. The approach advocates acceptance of conflict and rationalizes its existence due to the potential benefits from conflict, managers should focus on managing it effectively rather than suppressing or eliminating it, (Verma 1998).

(iii) The contemporary approach

It views inter-group conflict as an inevitable consequence of organizational interactions, caused by primarily by the complexities of our organizational systems. Through such mechanisms, the solutions of conflict may help to bring about positive organizational change.

(iv) Interactionist view of conflict

This is the latest view that assumes that conflict is necessary to increase performance. This view encourages conflict based on the belief that a harmonious, peaceful, tranquil, too-cooperative organization is likely to become static, apathetic, stagnant, and unable to respond to change and innovation. This approach encourages managers to maintain an appropriate level of conflict enough to keep the organization self-critical, viable, creative, and innovative.

(v) Resolution-Focused View of Conflict

This view believes that conflicts produce stress, which may lead people to become more close-minded and adversarial.

Conflict management strategies

According to Robbins and Judge (2013), Conflict is a process that begins when one party perceives another party has or is about to negatively affect something the first party cares about. Conflict management is the extent to which a public manager restrains subordinates from fighting and arguing, and encourages them to resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. Helps to settle conflicts and disagreements between subordinates. (Mandy et. al). Conflict occurs between people or groups, it often arises from competing for resources, power, and status. In family set-ups members may compete for attention while individuals compete for jobs and wealth. In the early 1970s, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified 5 conflict resolution strategies that help people handle a conflict and reach an agreed resolution. Thomas and Kilmann based their strategies on the choices people make about how assertive or cooperative they will be in a conflict. Everyone has a different, preferred approach to managing conflict in the workplace; understanding these strategies can help move a project or team forward when a conflict occurs. The key to managing conflict successfully is tailoring your response to fit each conflict situation instead of just relying on one particular technique. Each technique represents a different way to achieve the outcome you want and to help the other person achieve at least part of the outcome that he or she wants. There are several types of conflict that may arise in the workplace, including task, process, and relationship conflict (O'Neill, Allen, & Hastings, 2013).

At Premier Service Medical Society Hospital, the following strategies are commonly used, avoidance, accommodation, compromise, and collaboration.

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Figure 1: Dimensions of Conflict-Handling Intentions (Thomas 1992), Conflict and Negotiation Processes in Organizations p.668

i. Avoiding

No winners, no losers

This strategy leads to loss for all due to its uncooperative nature. Some people argue that avoidance is not a true conflict resolution strategy because the conflict is not resolved and neither party is satisfied (Hamilton 2008). This is when people seek to withdraw from or ignore any conflict, usually because feeling uncomfortable about the confrontation outweighs any possible reward from resolving it. The problem is that this strategy does not really resolve the issue because there is a lack of contribution to the conversation.

For example, a ward nurse at PSMAS might request for time off during Christmas holiday, however, during this period the hospital will be busy and all staff members are aware that they should be on standby. As a result, the nurse in charge will reject the request. The ward nurse will proceed to see a doctor for off sick as a way of avoiding confronting the nurse in charge. Usually, both persons involved feel frustrated and angry. There are some situations in which avoiding the issue might be appropriate, such as when tempers are flaring or when strong anger is present. However, this is only a short-term strategy; it is important to get back to the problem after emotions have cooled.

ii. Accommodation

I lose, you win

With accommodation, one person accommodates the other at his expense but often ends up feeling resentful and angry. Accommodation does not always lead to a satisfactory resolution to an issue and leaves the door open for more assertive members of the group to take control.

When a member in conflict gives in just to keep the peace, it isn’t necessarily helpful. In the given Christmas situation, the charge nurse would put her own concern aside and let the ward nurse have his or her way, possibly even working for you during the scheduled slot. The charge nurse loses and the ward nurse wins in this situation, however, this may set up conflict among staff who might also need such a favor in the near future. Accommodation is best used at PSMAS when it is noted that conflict would create serious disruption, such as arguing, or when the person with whom you are in conflict has the power to resolve the conflict unilaterally? In this response to conflict, differences are suppressed or played down while agreement is emphasized.

iii. Compromise

You bend, I bend

Compromise or bargaining is the strategy that recognizes the importance of both the resolution of the problem and the relationship between the two people. Compromise is a moderately assertive and cooperative step in the right direction, in which one creates a modified win-lose outcome. The problem lies in the reduced staffing that will occur for a short period. The compromise may not be satisfactory for either party, but it may be offered as a temporary solution until more options become available. Compromise can increase staff morale. This strategy emphasized that each member of the group gives up something so that no member gets everything, although often no one is completely happy with the final resolution. This is considered to be the best outcome. In the given Christmas situation, the charge nurse at PSMAS, will compromise with the ward nurse by allowing him or her to have Christmas evening off with his or her family but not the entire week

iv. Collaboration

I win, you win

Collaboration deals with confrontation and problem-solving at the base of the conflict. There is usually high concern for the problem, the outcome, and the relationship. It deals with confrontation and problem-solving. The needs, feelings, and desires of both parties are taken into consideration and re-examined while searching for proper ways to agree on goals. It is fully assertive and cooperative. Each member of the group is allowed to contribute and then issues are resolved by establishing a shared solution that all can support.

In the Christmas situation, ward nurse and the charge nurse discuss the week of Christmas vacation and the staffing needs and agree that the ward nurse will work the first three days of that week and the charge nurse will work the second half of that week. In this situation, both persons are satisfied, and there is no compromising what is most important to each person. Usually, this method is used to accommodate the diversity of culture which exist within PSMAS where some might need off to go to church and some might need time to go for traditional ceremonies. At PSMAS collaboration can be done through individuals where one employee will cover for the other one so that when he or she needs time off also the other staff will cover up.

v. Competing

I win, you loose

People who are overly assertive rather than cooperative enter into conflict resolution with the intention of winning. With this strategy, one person wins and the other loses, pushing out any chance of seeing a different perspective. As a result, this is not usually a good strategy for resolving conflicts within a group.


Conflict can be healthy if it is managed effectively. Conflict management requires a combination of analytical and human skills. Every project participant should learn to resolve project conflicts effectively. Good conflict managers work at the source of conflict. To resolve it permanently, they must address the cause of the conflict and not just the symptoms of it. They should concentrate on building an atmosphere designed to reduce destructive conflict and deal with routine frictions and minor differences before they become unmanageable. The key to resolving conflict with a positive outcome includes looking for a win-win situation, cutting losses when necessary, formulating proactive conflict management strategies, using effective negotiation and communication, and appreciating cultural differences among project stakeholders.


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