Conflict is a discord between two or more parties. The causes of the conflict differ depending on the situation or environment. Conflict is bound to occur when people are working or living in the same environment. The key is to approach and solve the disagreement in a sound manner that leaves both parties satisfied with the resolutions made. The process of resolving conflicts is known as reconciliation. Reconciliation is the methods of facilitating peaceful ending of conflict and retribution. The conflict resolution process is facilitated by a mediator (Barsky & Allan., 2014).
In the world that we are living in today, conflict is inevitable, and thus bound to occur any time and at any place. The occurrence of conflict between people does not choose a relationship, as it may occur between best of friends, between relatives, and also between total strangers, as a result of having different views, opinions, or goal towards a particular thing. Conflict may also go beyond individuals and occur between groups of people who have different opinions, goals, or views towards a particular thing. Conflict is a vice that emerged since the beginning of the existence of mankind on earth, and it has endured spread from an individual level, to a company level, and even further to a country level. In recent years, we have seen countries go to war as a result of conflicts that affect their desires, where most of it occur as a result of selfish desires and personal gains (Moore & W., 2014). It is in this perspective, that conflict resolution processes should be integrated as it will be discussed in the preceding paragraphs of the paper. This is evidenced by Mayer (2000) Power is the major contributor to conflict, "the ability to get one's needs met and to further one's goals (Mayer, 2000)”.
In this case, am mediating a conflict between two employees working for a software development company. The two employees are Abdul and Shirley, both of whom share the position of project leader. The conflict is stemming out due to one of the employees (Shirley) feeling being undermined by her colleague (Abdul). The two employees are equals regarding duties and power, but Shirley feels Abdul is playing the supremacy game.
Project management is a fundamental component in software development for successful software projects to be accomplished. The project manager (s) need to be in sync with themselves and staff under them. In this case scenario, the problem is among the project managers themselves. The conflicts paint a bad picture to the employees assigned to this project and may stall the project affecting the time constraint to complete the project (Nolan-Haley & Jacqueline., 2013).
A leader sets the standards for others to follow, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves” (Ray Kroc). The project managers (Shirley and Abdul) in this scenario are setting a dangerous precedence for the junior employees under them. The situation leaves the staff confused and torn apart on who to follow
The main reason for conflict in the scenario is that Shirley feels that Abdul is treating her as just another employee under him. Shirley complains that Abdul calls for a meeting without consulting her, in the meeting Abdul reviews every employee's duties including her, and Abdul signs and sends letters like the sole project leader. Shirley feels that since the two hold the same position which makes them equal, all decisions should be done through a consultation and communicated after a consensus. As a mediator, these points are very valid. On the other hand, Abdul accuses Shirley of being “hung up with feelings of power and titles”. Abdul defends himself by saying there is no difference when he calls for a meeting or signs letters by himself. He claims Shirley has other matter to attend to “other projects to run”, and doesn’t need to “pay too much attention to this one.” The problem here is that Abdul doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of joint leadership entirely. No matter the number of “other” duties that Shirley has, Abdul has to involve her fully even on this project. The reason being in the case of any failure the blame will fall on both of them as project leaders (Halperin & Eran., 2013).
As the process of discussion and negotiation begins to find an amicable solution, I will remind the individuals that they hold positions of leadership and should demonstrate it in this reconciliation process. I will reiterate to the two project leaders their role as leaders are necessary for the process, “a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus (Martin Luther King, Jr.).”
Theoretical approach (methods applied to reconcile the parties)
The theory focuses on personality and unconscious drives and forces within a person. I will use two assumptions adopted to explain the theory:
i. Our behavior and feelings as adults can be traced back to our childhood experiences.
In this scenario, I will try to gain some insights into each’s childhood. I will ask each person to give me an experience of their childhood where they ever worked in group collaborating with the others to achieve a task. My principal aim is to know what their role was, how they felt working in the group and how they worked to accomplish the set task.
In the scenario above it may emerge Abdul never liked group work or he may have been the sole leader in charge of the team and has grown with the same feeling of waiting to be in charge. On the other hand, it may emerge Shirley has always been more of a group person who loves collaboration in the team, and that’s why she doesn’t like it when Abdul sidelines her in some decision-making processes.
ii. Personality is consists of three parts: the id, ego, and super-ego.
The main in the scenario may be emanating from Abdul's ego and super-ego. In that, his ego makes him see no need in consulting a woman. He may consider it as making him inferior. The drive to take initiative on his own may be due to his super-ego as a man to always provide leadership and take charge of a situation. I will evaluate the personality of each to determine how it triggers them to act in certain ways.
The theory focuses on building an environment where the therapist/mediator is understanding and emphatic to his/her client. In the environment, the client feels free of being judged. The mediator has to be very understanding and create a non-judgmental relationship.
In applying the theory to resolve the conflict between Shirley and Abdul, I will have the session with each where we talk and share openly. Each will have the opportunity to say what they feel about the other person or conflict with the guarantee of confidentiality of information shared. The purpose is to ensure that the individual doesn’t feel threatened physically or physiologically in sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Dual concern model theory
The model uses two approach dimensions concern for self and concern for others. The model gives preference to an individuals favored approach to reach a reconciliation point. The model employs several strategies to reconcile warring parties. The key for success of the model approach is to utilize any of the strategies it provides to identify and solve the problem. Among the five strategies in this scenario, I will apply to strategies to solve the conflict as they are the most efficient for the situation, and this is cooperation-conflict style and conciliation conflict style (Moore & W., 2014). According to my judgment, they are more solution oriented without the risk of escalating the situation. The approach of conflict avoidance style is good but not suitable here as avoiding to face the conflict “wait and see” approach has the danger of blowing the problem out of control.
Cooperation conflict style
The strategy is typically used when an individual has elevated interests in their outcomes as well as in the results of others. The project leaders Abdul and Shirley will have to work together as cooperators. Cooperators cooperate to find an amicable solution to the conflict to satisfy all parties. The project leaders will be required to engage each other in different decision makings to find a “win-win” outcome. This is more in the case of deciding the time for meetings and contents of the meeting (Barsky & Allan., 2014).
Conciliation conflict style
The strategy is basically about compromise. Each party is required to have the approach of giving and take, to meet the other party halfway. If the issue is time on when the meeting should be held a compromise is to be made by both project leaders and find a suitable time space to suit both. Also, be sending any letters they are to pass through both leaders each giving his/her signature before the letters are sent off (Nolan-Haley & Jacqueline., 2013).
Cognitive behavior theory.
It’s a conflict resolution theory that focuses on the present (“here and now”). The theory focuses on the recognition of automatic negative thoughts that have an impact on behavior. It emphasizes on how thoughts affect behavior. In the scenario to resolve the conflict, I will help each person realize how their line of thought has contributed to the conflict.
Shirley from the very beginning was against the hiring of Abdul; she perceived him as being incompetent for the project. This line of thought might be the biggest problem, where up to now where they are both working as project leaders she still perceives Abdul as being incompetent. She only agreed to work with him with the clarification she was not working for him. I will reiterate to Shirley despite her previous views of Abdul's “incompetence” the management still hired him which means he is qualified for the job.
Abdul has his line of thought focused that Shirley has other “role” to handle and doesn’t need to be concerned with this particular project. I will remind Abdul that this is a joint project which translates to working together through each and every step, as he seems to have forgotten this point.
The Interest-Based Relational Approach.
The method was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury. They argue that conflict resolution should be approached by separating people and their emotions from the problem. The aim is to build mutual respect and understanding and solve the problem in a united and cooperative manner. In the scenario, they two leader’s emotions are already in the “air”. When Abdul was being interviewed to work for the company, Shirley had an opportunity to interview him. She gave a recommendation against hiring Abdul as she felt he was not competent for the project. Abdul was still recruited by the then project manager despite Shirley’s recommendation and seven months later they were both assigned the role of project leader. As they were given the opportunity, Shirley agreed with the stipulation that she wasn’t working for Abdul. Shirley has already created an emotional feeling of finding Abdul not “good enough”. Abdul considers Shirley to be too “sensitive about everything.” This shows each person here has a certain feeling of how they perceive each other (Halperin & Eran., 2013).
The first approach I will use is to call each project leader into am meeting individual. The aim is to ask them to express their emotions about the other person freely. This will give me an opportunity to understand the underlying emotional feelings of each. The hidden feelings I believe are among the contributors to this conflict. I will get Shirley to explain why from the very instance she felt Abdul was incompetent for the project (Ross, Rothman, & eds., 2016). I will also get Abdul to explain why he feels Shirley is “too sensitive” about issues. After gaining the information from the individuals here are the approaches I will use to bring them together:
i. Ensure good relationships are a priority.
The aim is to make them understand the conflict could be a mutual problem, and it’s critical to solving it through discussion and negotiation. I will make it clear that it's essential for people to work together happily and without resentment, to achieve project objectives efficiently.
I will organize a face to face meeting to clarify the importance of a good relationship.
ii. Separate people from problems.
I will emphasize the view that a problem is rarely one-sided, and collaboration is the key, to addressing the problem rather than the personalities involved. Inform them that the problem is caused by neither person, but need to work together to resolve it.
In the scenario, Abdul may think Shirley is the problem. He says she is “too sensitive about things,” I will point out that he is focusing on the person rather than the problem. The problem is that since both are project leaders, uniform decisions have to be met before an individual proceeds to make a step.
iii. Listen carefully to different interests.
The aim is to avoid blaming an individual for the problem. The objective is to make everyone understand each person’s underlying interest, needs, and concerns. I will ask for each person’s viewpoint and have each person confirm commitment to cooperate. Each person will be required to listen keenly, node and allow the other person to finish talking before interrupting. This way each will be able to hear the view and perceptions expressed by the other person. After each knows their views have been heard, they are most likely to be accommodating different perspective.
Conflict at the workplace can destroy good team work and keep in mind the scenario involves a group project. Conflict at the workplace is a very common occurrence in the world today. Most employees are surrounded with the selfish desires of wanting to be promoted and given power at the workplace over their colleagues, resulting in unprecedented conflicts that end up affecting their output at work and may even mess up group projects that they have been tasked with. Teamwork is essential to meet the goals of the project thereby achieve the company’s objectives. Conflict affect communication which is vital for the management of a project, which has to be maintained at all times.
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