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Conflict Resolution for Business Leaders

Conflict in the workplace is a serious problem. Recognizing the crucial role that adept conflict resolution plays in fostering a harmonious work environment, the University of Texas at Tyler Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Organizational Development & Leadership online program provides comprehensive training for aspiring business leaders. At the core of this curriculum is a specialized Conflict Resolution course, which provides indispensable skills needed to overcome workplace discord.

There are various intricacies of conflict resolution for business leaders. The strategic insights gained by program graduates position them as leaders capable of steering organizations through the challenges of interpersonal dynamics in modern workplaces.

What Is Conflict Resolution and Why Is It Important?

Conflict resolution is the systematic process of addressing and settling disagreements in a work environment, which can be achieved through methods such as mediation, negotiation or other collaboration. Leaving conflicts unaddressed can have detrimental effects on morale and productivity. In contrast, actively resolving conflicts enables teams to establish trust, laying the foundation for improved collaboration and the collective pursuit of organizational goals.

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKCMI) model provides a structured guide for leaders to develop their conflict resolution skills. Emphasizing the three Rs — Recognize, React and Resolve — this model simplifies complex situations and provides a strategic pathway for leaders to navigate conflicts effectively. By recognizing the existence of conflicts, reacting with a thoughtful approach and ultimately resolving issues, leaders can foster an environment where conflicts serve as opportunities for growth and understanding.

Conflict resolution has many benefits, each contributing to the overall health and functionality of a team. Here are a few key examples:

  • Overall communication improves as team members learn to express themselves effectively, facilitating a deeper understanding of each other’s needs.
  • Understanding between individuals improves, and employees begin to see situations from different perspectives and build towards successful relationships.
  • Team stress levels come down, preventing anxiety and worry from escalating.
  • Relationships are strengthened, fostering trust and respect among team members, which is vital for sustained collaboration and success.

Types of Workplace Conflicts  

Various triggers cause workplace conflicts. Examples include divergent personalities or perspectives, unresolved past issues, a sense of competition among team members, deficient communication skills and ambiguity regarding roles or responsibilities. Disputes appear in different types, such as task-based conflicts, leadership conflicts, work style conflicts and personality clashes.

Task-based conflicts arise when there are different opinions on how to approach a project or task. Leadership conflicts stem from disagreements over management styles or decisions. Work style conflicts develop from variations in individual work habits and preferences, while personality clashes result from conflicting temperaments within the team. Recognizing these distinct types of workplace conflicts is vital for implementing targeted strategies that address each situation’s root causes and dynamics.

Workplace Conflicts Are on the Rise

According to a 2022 Myers-Briggs research report titled Conflict at Work, 36% of workers (all levels represented) reported dealing with conflict often, very often or all the time. Fifty-five percent reported dealing with conflict at work occasionally. On average, participants in the research spent 4.34 hours per week dealing with conflict at work. This has more than doubled since the 2008 survey, when the average was 2.1 hours.

According to one Leaders article, the leading causes of conflict in the workplace are poor communication, lack of role clarity, heavy workloads, personality clashes, changes in policies and structures, dysfunctional teams and people with very different values.

Effective Conflict Resolution Leadership Qualities, Skills and Strategies

Effective workplace conflict resolution demands a comprehensive set of leadership qualities (according to Leaders) and resolution skills. Leaders must possess the following:

  • high emotional intelligence to understand the intricate web of emotions accompanying disputes
  • flexibility to adapt to diverse perspectives and find solutions accommodating everyone involved
  • active listening and summarizing skills to address each party’s thoughts
  • objectiveness to ensure fair judgment, and integrity and respect to lay the foundation for trust
  • negotiation to establish a need for cooperation and teamwork
  • patience to avoid hasty conclusions
  • forgiveness to move past conflicts

Leaders need a range of well-developed conflict resolution strategies. These include asking thoughtful questions to uncover underlying issues, asking parties to write down their concerns and acknowledging the specific problem before responding to anger calmly and impartially. Being flexible and finding solutions that work for everyone is crucial, as is remaining objective in mediation. Treating others with integrity and respect is a continuous practice, along with patience in avoiding rash judgments.

Leaders should exhibit forgiveness, maintain a positive attitude and use humor sensibly to reduce tension. Active listening and stress management are practical skills similar to encouraging collaboration, finding compromises and negotiating effectively. Teaching problem-solving skills to employees empowers them to resolve conflicts independently, and cultivating a team culture founded on accountability and trust helps to reduce the frequency and severity of conflicts.

It is essential to distinguish which commonly used strategies are ineffective. Without proper education and training, many leaders resort to poor strategies like avoiding, competing or accommodating. Poor strategies contribute to disharmony in teams, dysfunction in the workplace, poor job satisfaction and engagement and failures in organizational performance.

Learn to Resolve Conflict as an Effective Business Leader

At a time in which nearly a quarter of employees believe their managers handle conflict poorly, the significance of robust conflict resolution training cannot be overstated. Widespread poor communication, identified as the most significant cause of workplace conflict, underscores the critical need for leaders with the skills cultivated in the program.

As organizations strive for cohesiveness and productivity, UTT program graduates are leaders capable of transforming workplace discord into opportunities for growth, understanding and success.

Learn more about the University of Texas at Tyler’s online Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Organizational Development & Leadership program.

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With limited-time tuition savings of more than $150 per credit hour, now is the ideal time to get started on your 100% online accelerated MBA program from UT Tyler. Choose the specialized concentration tailored to your professional goals and apply today.

This discounted tuition rate is for newly enrolled students and is valid for the January 2024 term through the October 2024 term. Student must apply by the term’s application deadline and enroll by the term’s registration deadline start to qualify. The discounted tuition rate will consist of $739.21 per credit hour or $2,217.62 per 3 credit hour course. The discounted tuition rate cannot be combined with any other scholarship or partner rate. Students who have previously stepped-out of a University of Texas at Tyler program once started will not qualify for this offer. This offer will not be retroactively available to students. The discounted tuition rate will expire in October 2024. The discounted tuition rate includes all fees and is subject to change without notice. The University reserves the right to increase tuition and fees at any time.

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