The following study guide is meant to help you prepare for the final exam. This material is for your practice and review only. You will not be asked to turn in your responses to the questions and activities below. As you work through these study guides, take note of your confidence level with the material. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with your grasp of these topics, and take the suggestions for resources to re-watch or re-read seriously before proceeding to the final exam.
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5a.1. In any organization, regardless of size or purpose, the possibility of having a conflict between or among the members of the organization exists. Chapter 10 of our text describes conflict as, “…a process that involves people disagreeing.” Conflict can be distracting, but is all conflict something to be avoided? It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable, right?
A. This unit presents you with three types of conflict: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and group conflict. Review the discussion on each type of conflict, and write a one sentence definition for each.
B. Refer to the definitions that you just completed. In a sentence or two, can you describe an experience that you had with each type, or that you witnessed occurring in others?
C. Conflicts can be either functional or dysfunctional. That is, they can have a negative or a positive impact n an organization. Write a brief paragraph describing the negatives of conflict, and one describing a positive result.
In some instances, conflict can simply mean a difference of opinion, or someone saying, “I don’t agree with you on this point.” If this conflict results in an exchange of opinions and ideas, the result may be improved. If it degenerates, it can delay a project or result in inferior decisions.
5a.2. Conflicts can occur in any organization. If we are concerned with the potential negative effects of conflict, we will want to try and minimize the causes of conflict. The following chart depicts six possible causes of conflicts.
A. Take a moment, and write a one or two sentence definition of each cause.
B. If you were the manager of a business, can you identify a specific action you would take to minimize the potential risk of a conflict resulting from each of these causes?
C. While internal conflicts can have negative impacts on an organization, external conflicts may be even more problematic. Can you identify three external sources of conflict that could occur? Can you identify a possible solution for each one.
For any organization, group, or team, conflict must be identified quickly, and managed. We want to minimize dysfunctional conflict and its’ negative impacts, and utilize functional conflict to help produce better outcomes. Conflict management can be integrated into an organization’s strategy, and processes for dealing with conflict can be implemented.
5b.1. Let’s continue with the idea of conflict management. This is a process for identifying and resolving conflicts in an effective manner that limits any disruption of the organization’s tasks. For example, conflicts can sometimes become quite personal, instead of simply disagreements about issues. Conflict management techniques can help refocus people’s attention back to the issues. Note that conflicts can grow from a simple misunderstanding, to a verbal or physical abuse level if no intervention occurs.
A. Chapter 10 presents a few ways that we handle conflict. This chart plots the different techniques by evaluating the level of cooperation between conflicting parties, versus the level of competitiveness.
In one or two sentences, provide a definition of each technique.
B. Pick one of these techniques, and in a paragraph or two, describe a time that you used the technique to address a conflict, and explain if it was successful or not? Would you use this technique again? If not, explain why.
C. Pick one of the techniques listed that you have not used to address a conflict. Think about a case where you might use this technique, and write a brief paragraph explaining how you would use it.
D. As we are living and working in a diversified and global market, can you identify any potential conflicts that might occur due to cultural differences? Gender differences? Age differences? Make a list of five or six of these potential conflicts.
If you are planning on being pro-active in planning to include a conflict management plan for your organization, there are many resources that can provide help. You may consider training programs for the members of your organization. There are consulting firms that can come into your organization and aid in developing plans. You can also ensure that there are many communication channels available to people to express a concern, point out a problem, or seek help.
5c.1. Many conflicts may be resolved through the process of negotiation. Negotiations typically require that the parties involved discuss the point(s) of conflict, and through varying degrees of give and take, which may utilize an independent, outside referee, to reach an accommodation. This chart represents the stages of the negotiation process:
A. First, in a sentence or two, describe each phase in the negotiation process?
B. Let’s consider a scenario describing a workplace conflict. You are the manager of a department, and two of your employees have responded to your request to identify a solution to a customer issue. Only one resolution can be implemented, and there is a conflict between the employees on who’s idea should be used. Briefly explain how you might use the phases of negotiation to resolve this conflict.
C. In your experience, have you ever been involved in a conflict with a classmate, co-worker, or teammate? How did you resolve this conflict? Did the resolution go through any of the listed phases of negotiation?
As discussed, there are several ways to address conflicts in an organization. To be effective at limiting conflicts, an organization must be familiar with many techniques. Different levels of conflict will require a different response. Most of us would agree that it is better to have a win-win outcome if possible, rather than a win-lose outcome.
This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.