The style of problem solving, and conflict resolution are the most important factors in determining group effectiveness. Research has shown that the predominant mode of conflict resolution that characterizes leadership and management groups is the most significant variable in determining whether or not companies are profitable.
It is important for managers to understand the complexity of problem solving and conflict resolution. There are specific methods and techniques that managers do use and apply to be consistently effective. However, they should recognize there are other styles of conflict resolution that can be more effective, depending upon the circumstances and the makeup of the individuals involved.
Smoothing and Avoiding
These groups tend to be comprised of accommodating individuals who, when a problem or conflict occurs, will tend to define it in a manner that minimizes the differences between individuals. Their objective is to maintain the status quo within the group. As a whole, this method of conflict resolution is destructive because it does not address the central issues or actually resolve the sources of conflict. Consequently, these issues tend to fester within the group and will emerge later as a larger issue.
The group norms that identify the smoothing and avoiding behavior include individuals who tend to withdraw when attacked in order to avoid conflict. Additionally, individual group members tend to keep their feelings and remarks in check so that they don’t surface. This effectively masks internal conflict and prevents the manager, as well as the group, from identifying the undercurrents that are present.
Confronting and Problem Solving
Confronting is a conflict resolution method that can represent the healthiest behavior. The members of this group tend to be collaborators. They will define the problem relative to the total organization’s needs versus their own. The outcomes of this group are interdependent if the total group benefits from the solution.
The group norms that identify confronting and problem solving behavior include individuals who feel it is important to bring out and confront the differences of opinion and perspective within the group. They also feel that all solutions to conflict should be open and fair to all involved and to the organization as a whole. The group will tend to arrive at answers and solutions by reason rather than the application of personal power and authority.
Learn to recognize when you, as the manager/leader, are just accommodating, not resolving the problem.