The basic situation in this scenario is that two team members have an unresolved conflict, stemming from a previous work project from six months ago. This is currently causing team and individual discord, and a lack of production on the current project. Ideally, the situation should be resolved using one or more of the standard conflict resolution strategies. If these should happen to fail, or complications arise from them, new strategies may need to be devised and implemented. Due to the intensively internal nature of the conflict, the resolution process, must proceed slowly and delicately, but achieve quick results, so as not to throw off the time table of the current project. .
The first step in conflict resolution is to identify the core issues. In the current predicament, the issues find their base in the unsatisfying results of the previous project. The instigating team members, being the ones leading the conflict, should be isolated away from the group, so that the problem can be discussed and the individual causes identified. Once the causes have been identified, a conflict resolution strategy can be implemented. Ideally, when the strategy reaches fruition, both instigating parties will be satisfied and the negative consequences of the conflict will be abated.
The next step following causal identification should be the choice of conflict strategy. While the standard conflicts strategies alone provide a solid foundation for good conflict management, it is most likely a better idea to take a composite of these strategies, which is better tailored to the individual needs of the situation. As Bettina Lankard Brown’s article “Conflict Management: Trends and Issues Alert” so painfully illustrates, applying a policy approach to the conflict can often have very negative and undesired results. Among these results, are legal action against the company based on feelings of discrimination, a company-wide feeling of oppression, and even total chaos within the corporate system. This is generally due, to the fact that a policy system applies a broad and minimally effective solution to a specific and possibly deep rooted individualized conflict.
“Litigation and legal negotiation are two of the most expensive and time-consuming ways to resolve a conflict between parties as they require court action and the involvement of legal counsel. Arbitration, another method for resolving conflict, involves a neutral third party to settle disputes among parties in a subjective manner. Like litigation and legal negotiations, however, arbitration takes power out of the hands of those in conflict and defuses their role in conflict negotiation and resolution.” (1998)
Of the standard approaches, conflict resolution, when dealing with a two party conflict that affects an entire group, a compromise and accommodation composite should yield the best results to dissolve the initial dispute as well as the ripple effect it had on the group. Due to the fact that the problem’s initial beginning, is from a project that is passed and now over with the solution itself must be creative. In order to compromise both team members should be sat down away from the rest of the team in a forum style discussion in which they can voice their negative feelings concerning their work on the last project, so that the situations which cause these feelings can be avoided or overcome in dealing with their current work.
This will obviously require the give and take, which forms the basis of compromise, in order that both sides may enjoy the mutual satisfaction that is the outcome of the compromise approach. In essence, this is the deal approach, section 4 “Compromise. Give in on one area with the idea that others will give in on other areas.” which is strongly recommended by the Conflict Resolution Information Center’s article “Resolving Conflict in the Workplace” (2000) Being that the conflict has already caused divisions among the rest of the team, the needs of those team members must be addressed as well. In this particular situation, the primary need is most likely that of strong leadership, as the team was divided because of two strong personalities. Obviously, there will be opposition to the form discussion as well as leadership implementation due to the fact that the entire conflict started because opinions of correctness were too strongly rooted, to except change.
Unfortunately, if such opposition arises stringent measures will have to be taken. Though it is regrettable to have to resort to negative enforcement, tactics such as temporary salary reduction or suspension of the instigating parties will have to be taken in order to begin proper causal identity procedures. Further, in the absence of the strong personalities, which will most likely be team leaders, both before and after conflict resolution, a temporary team leader must be promoted or imported to the head of the team during the leader candidate’s time of ineffectiveness. At the end of the ineffective period, the problem instigators currently low on moral should be bolstered with new though light responsibilities, until such time as they have proven capable of fully and cooperatively joining the team.
According to Robert Bacal’s article “Conflict & Cooperation in the Workplace”, a key progenitor of unresolved conflict is personalization. He states, “It is rare that personalization occurs just on the basis of two incompatible personalities. Usually, personalization occurs because conflict on substantive issues is handled badly. That is, one or both parties behave in non-cooperative ways.” In order to prevent this as well as similar situations from occurring, it should prove most effective to institute a project evaluation form or forum format. This will allow any grievances of team members with project performance or outcome, to be voiced long before such grievances have a chance to become buried and fester unnoticeably into a new conflict. Further, evaluations of team members, after each project, should be given to determine who would be most likely to be an effective for internal leadership of the next project.
Although these suggestions are not guaranteed to work, they do cater to the needs of the team as well as the needs of the company. Further adjustments should be made to account for individualized moral builders. Whether this is a reward system or simply a new perspective on current responsibilities, the reinforcement of individual moral better assists the team as a whole, as well as providing a buffer against future conflicts. Conflicts themselves are as diverse as the individuals who perpetuate them, so should their solutions be as well. Given the diversity of individuals, this should lead the on-hand resolution strategist to develop diversity within his tactics, which satisfy the needs of the individual, team subgroups, team groups, corporate subgroups, and the corporation as an entire unit. Conflict resolution has become a key to corporate survival. In order to keep up with the ever-changing structure of the corporate world, conflict strategies by necessity must also be ever-changing.
Bascal R. (1998). Conflict & Cooperation in the Workplace. Institute for Conflict
Prevention. Retrieved May 19, 2003, from
Brown B. L. (1998). Conflict Management: Trends and Issues Alert. Educational
Information Resources Center. Retrieved May 19, 2003 from
(2000). Resolving Conflict in the Workplace. Conflict Resolution Information Source.
Retrieved May 19, 2003 from CRInfo Online Database