Communication, Coaching, and Conflict Skills
As globalization has intermingled the economies like never before, the importance of communication, coaching and conflict handling has automatically come to the fore. In terms of leadership, the topic carries an additional heft as leaders have to deal with employees and clients with different cultural and religious identities. Varying identities are likely to clash thereby making it difficult for leaders to manage the things smoothly.
Apparently, the effectiveness of leadership is based on how leaders maintain the flow of information, what communication tactics they use to get closer to employees, and how they promote a dialogue at the workplace so as to encourage employees share their opinion and address apprehensions. An article published in Harvard Business Review has mentioned that communication failure is the silent killer of big companies. Conflicts and misunderstandings crop up when people just talk to each other, not with each other.
Present day business contour is dynamic enough and so are the communicational complexities. Theoretically, it sounds interesting to explore the related issues in detail and boil down to feasible recommendations. In addition, this paper aims to define the significance of apt communication and conflict handling, briefs over coaching as a means to conflict management, explores various issues surrounding the topic, provides specific examples of how big firms have dealt with these issues, and make recommendations for the future. A comprehensive explanation of underlying details is expected to build a holistic understanding of the readers.
Simply put, communication is the process of transferring information and meaning. Statistics reveal that leaders spend around 40 percent of their time in communicating with others. The statistics clearly entails a positive correlation between effective communication and leadership performance.
Clearly, coaching and conflict skills are related to communicational aspects. Organizations, nowadays, prefer coaching methods for better communication among staff members. Leaders are given cultural competency trainings so that they can handle conflicts skillfully. It goes without saying that all of these three aspects are keys to business reputation and brand image.
Examples are galore that how businesses have failed for short of dependable communication structures and conflict management mechanisms. An in-depth account of Nokia revealed that the brand failed to maintain its competitive edge because much of the communication was unfocused and clear plans of launching the new product line were lagging behind. Likewise, Enron collapse occurred because its top leadership failed to communicate appropriate 'values' to the employers.
Key Issues Pertaining to Communication and Conflict Management
Communication, coaching, and conflict management are three different but interrelated aspects of leadership. For better understanding, it is imperative to explore various issues separately.
Primary maladies pertaining communication include communication gap and failure thereof. Lack of cross-cultural competence in leaders is expected to aggravate communicational issues in the organization. Furthermore, communication depends on a leader's trust, honesty, and integrity. Even if employees belong to the same cultural and ethnic group, communication fail if trust, ethics, morality and integrity are lacking in leaders and employees. Unfortunately, communication issues in the organization directly hamper the organizational profitability and brand image. A scholarly article revealed that British Petroleum disaster in 2010 was the outcome of poor communication and lackluster information handling.
Conflicts stand at the core of communication breakdown. Lack of interaction sharpens the communication gap and affects professional relationship. Leaders, in day-to-day functioning, may face grave resistance and the oppositions from senior-level leaders. Problems sharpen further when there exist hidden conflicts in any company. Hidden conflicts often go unnoticed and simmer behind the scene. Though companies have informal conflict management system in place, the exercise of power may be biased towards the person in higher position thereby making it difficult to resolve conflicts with transparency.
The merger of Daimler and Chrysler is considered a fiasco because two companies had conflicts arising out of differences in philosophy, vision, and operating styles. As German culture became dominant, employees at Chrysler became more dissatisfied. Functionally, the merger favored Daimler while Chrysler remained silent.
There is no limit to how conflicts may arise in an organization. Employees and leaders may have different business perceptions, modus operandi, and varying views regarding overall organizational. While it is must to stop conflicts from going out of control, doing so is not that easy. It requires sheer dedication, skills, and practical knowledge on the part of leaders.
Background of the Issues
It goes without saying that communication issues and conflicts have seen a noticeable rise in recent past. The origin of these issues can be traced back to globalization, i.e., the force that has enabled the free flow of information, people, technology, and other resources. Whether it is a failure of company's operations in a foreign culture of discords among employees, cross-cultural elements have a greater say than other forces.
Scholars have pinpointed that globalization has bridged the gap between time and space thereby breaking down the localized ethnic identities of people. Localized identities are often merged with that of the larger community that, at times, creates grave communication failure in the organization. For instance, an Iranian razor company launched its sharp razor range "Tiz" in Qatar. The sales plummeted as Tiz was the Arabic slang for buttocks while it meant "sharp" in Persia. There are several such examples revealing that how management and leadership have faced issues because of unclear and ambiguous communication, internally as well as externally.
How Companies have Addressed Communication Issues and Conflicts
Organizations have risen to the role of communication in causing conflicts and negativity. They have adopted an integrated approach to solve communication gaps at the workplace. While Nokia lost its competitive edge because of unclear communication structures, the management ameliorated the condition by putting in place proper communication channels that facilitated a seamless flow of information internally and externally.
Inter-company communication was improved in 2008 by setting up of Social Media Communications Team with the aim to foster a two-way communication patterns among employees. Presently, leaders at the company encourages staff members to share their opinion on critical matters. The company, time to time, educates their employees about company products via different means as video conferencing.
Dialogue creation is quite crucial in resolving communication crisis in the companies. Philosophers as Heath and Aristotle have shared that a two-way symmetrical communication is one of the best strategy to keep the ideas flowing and to make informed decisions. The two-way symmetrical model was employed by Unilever and Greenpeace in dealing with Greenpeace activists when the NGO rapped these companies for destroying the environment by unfair activities. An in-depth scholarly study has revealed that McDonald, Unilever, and Greenpeace used two-way communication approach that achieved positive solutions and helped them resolve the impasse.
The same approach works well when it comes to conflict handling. Training, mediation, arbitration, collaborating, withdrawing, and forcing are some of the conflict handling techniques. Nonetheless, research has revealed that collaboration is the best strategy to achieve positive outcomes while handling the conflicts strategically. As such, communication and conflict handling are interrelated areas as both require open dialogue and a healthy interaction among players.
Still, not all conflicts can be handled publicly. A case of sexual advancement in one of the New York's companies highlights that some types of conflicts can be better handled by informal conflict management procedure as the victim may not want to share opinions publicly. In this particular case, Laura was physically harassed by a colleague. As she wanted to share her problem in confidence, she took the advice of Ombudsman, who could impart better dispute resolution via listening, role-playing, and reframing issues. Scholars have also vindicated that the role of Ombudsman suits to informal grievance redressing mechanism. Apparently, communication and conflict issues have a mammoth range. Still, different companies handle them differently based on the nature of the issue and the perception of participants on the issue.
How Communication Issues Should be Handled in the Future
My opinion is in conformity to relevant studies that emphasize the significance of follower-centered leadership styles in handling such issues in the future. Now also, organizations prefer flat organizational structures plus participative and transformative leadership traits. However, "leader is always right" approach prevails at many places thereby causing employee resentment and conflicts thereof.
Important among several reasons of communication breakdown in companies are trust deficit, unwillingness to listen to others, dishonest feedbacks, and lack of dialogue. Personally, I feel that lack of dialogue and lack of participation are the forerunners in the litany. As such, leadership must take a front seat in fostering the dialogue instead of lecturing.
Participative and transformative styles of leadership seem quite convincing in the context of communication and conflict handling. As these styles impart enough room of voicing opinions to employees, there are lesser chances of dissatisfaction and resentment. Clearly, most of the conflicts arise out of communication failure among employees and these leadership styles further lessen the chances of conflicts by bringing diverse opinions and perceptions on board.
Communication and conflict handling are some of the keys to effective leadership and business management. With cross-cultural settings are increasing in the workplace, leaders are required to maintain a fine balance between business profitability and employees' concerns.
As such, leadership has become dynamic enough, away from traditional authoritarian and dictatorial styles. Future of successful leadership depends on transformative and participative approaches that can pep up the dialogue among employees and manage the conflicts in a positive manner.
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