conflict coaching practices in the business world. It consists of a set of arguments that support conflict coaching theory and practices for the betterment of an organization, as well as a critical analysis which highlights some of its drawbacks and challenges for the managers.
This paper presents a comprehensive discussion and critical analysis of the conflict coaching theory in the context of business world. Conflicts and disputes are quite common among employees in the same departments and organizational levels. In order to resolve these conflicts and make their employees respect the values and point-of-views of their coworkers, managers need to play their leadership and conflict coaching role at the workplace. The literature is full of researches that explain the importance of conflict coaching for the efficient operations of the organization and the higher productivity of its employees. The theory of conflict coaching has been explained with a critical point-of-view by taking an example of employee conflict at workplace. A number of supporting arguments have been presented which recommend different conflict management techniques for the managers.
The literature review section gives a brief understanding of the concept in the light of some recent research studies and publications. The conflict coaching theory has also been criticized in the paper in its critical analysis section. A set of arguments have been presented to support whether conflict coaching should be used in a particular situation or not. Conflict coaching has some strengths and weaknesses in its application for the business organizations. The major strengths include employee conflict management and dispute resolution; improvement in their interpersonal and negotiation skills, enhanced ability of employees to handle similar conflicts in the future, and the manager's development in the areas of leadership and conflict coaching skills. Organizations may also face negative impacts of conflict coaching if the managers fail to resolve the issues between their subordinates. These negative impacts or weaknesses include high administrative and training costs, slow down of work during the conflict period, and less focus on organizational productivity during the whole conflict management coaching process. Organizations that wish to build strong organizational culture have to bear these costs and train their managers in the area of conflict management coaching.
Introduction: Conflict Coaching
Conflict coaching is a set of techniques to help people in resolving their personal and workplace conflicts in a very friendly and productive manner (Jones & Brinkert, 2008). For this purpose, the conflict coach acts as a manager or supervisor of the person or persons facing conflict (LeBlanc, Gilin, Calnan, & Solarz, 2012). He plays his coaching role as a neutral party in the whole conflict coaching process. In order to help his clients resolve their issues and conflicts with other parties, the conflict coach asks them to think politely about the ways in which their issues can be resolved and mutual trust can be rebuild. A conflict coach can provide his services for both the parties; but it is important to arrange separate meetings in order to know their opinion independently and get deep insights into the actual reasons of conflict (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2011).
Conflict Coaching for Business:
Conflict coaching techniques can be used in a number of situations; including conflicts between family members, friends, business partners, community members, and coworkers. However, the purpose of this essay is to explain and critically analyze conflict coaching theory in the context of business world, i.e. how conflict coaching helps in resolving issues and conflicts that arise between managers and their employees or among employees at the same level (LeBlanc, Gilin, Calnan, & Solarz, 2012). In either case, the purpose of conflict coaching is to prevent the issue from getting worse and resolve it before it turns into a hostile or controversial matter for the whole organization (Jones & Brinkert, 2008).
Generally companies ask their middle level managers to act as conflict coaches for their subordinates (Raines, 2013). However, third parties are also called when conflicts arise between employees and their immediate supervisors (Goldsmith, Lyons, & McArthur, 2012). In addition to resolving disputes and issues between employees, conflict coaching also helps organizational members in avoiding similar conflicts in the future by making them learn conflict management skills, build trust on coworkers, improve interpersonal communication patterns and negotiation skills, mitigate the adverse impacts of conflicts, and prepare for future dispute resolution (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2011).
Conflict Coaching Theory
Importance for Organizational Productivity:
Conflicts are widely observed in both personal and professional matters. An effective management and resolution of these conflicts in vital in order to live and work in a happy and contented setting. Conflicts and issues among employees have always been considered negative for the employees' performance and overall organizational productivity (Ellinger, Hamlin, Beattie, Wang, & McVicar, 2011). Therefore, managers always find ways to keep their employees away from such conflicts and issues which not only impact their own working routine, but also hamper the performance of the whole department. Workplace conflicts are also considered negative for an organization due to the heavy costs associated with their consequences. Conflict coaching helps these managers in resolving workplace conflicts and avoiding these heavy costs (Costello, Clarke, Gravely, D'Agostino-Rose, & Puopolo, 2011).
Conflict Coaching Services:
Modern research studies suggest that managers can turn conflicts and issues into trust and understandings between employees through effective conflict coaching services (Raines, 2013). Conflict coaching primarily aims to strengthen employee relationships and remove hatred and revulsion from their hearts (LeBlanc, Gilin, Calnan, & Solarz, 2012). Although conflict coaching focuses on resolving conflicts among employees in every possible way; companies apply its principles to better execute their human resource management practices and strengthen their organizational culture (Runde, Flanagan, & Center for Creative Leadership, 2010).
In order to perform the conflict coaching process in the most effective and efficient way, the efforts to resolve conflicts should be future-focused, i.e. The managers or conflict coaches should try to resolve the conflicts among employees in such a fashion that these employees never be at odds with each other in the future. They should be made to learn that they have to work like a single unit for the success and prosperity of their organization (Neault & Mondair, 2011).
The most motivational techniques used by conflict coaches to keep their subordinates or clients (the employees) away from conflicts with the conflicting parties include training on conflict resolution, corporate and ethical principles, and importance of organizational culture, and job rotation, enrichment, and enlargement. The application of each of these techniques depends upon the type of conflict which the organizational members face in a particular situation (Shatto, 2013).
Tanking a particular situation of workplace conflict as an example for this essay; it is assumed that an employee feels uncomfortable with some of his coworkers due to various matters like non-supportive behavior, uneven burden of job responsibilities, lack of confidence or mutual understanding, experience at job, sexual harassment or gender discrimination, minority disrespect, etc. (Raines, 2013). This uncomfortable interaction can give rise to hatred in the mind of the employee who is at the junior level or being unevenly treated by his supervisors as compared to his coworker (Runde, Flanagan, & Center for Creative Leadership, 2010). In severe cases, these two employees engage in a hard conflict with each other. In this particular situation, the employees raise their voice in front of the higher management and start politics at the workplace by forming two opposing groups (Jones & Brinkert, 2008).
Selection of Conflict Management Technique:
In order to resolve the conflict between these two employees, the Management asks their immediate supervisor to take some corrective action and reach a definite point on which both these conflicting parties may agree. First of all, the manager tries to figure out the main causal factors which have raised this conflict among the two coworkers. Once the main causes of conflicts are identified, the next step is to resolve them using some appropriate conflict management or dispute resolution technique (Ellinger, Hamlin, Beattie, Wang, & McVicar, 2011). For instance, if the conflict is raised due to the uneven burden of job responsibilities on one of these employees, the manager can use some extrinsic motivational technique to encourage that employee to work harder and stay committed with his job (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2011).
In similar cases, employees feel low motivation because they feel that the other employee is being paid high, but has fewer job responsibilities than him. In order to resolve this issue, the manager uses monetary techniques to improve that employee's morale (Jones & Brinkert, 2008). In addition, he has the following three options to resolve this particular issue:
i. Job Rotation:
In this technique, the manager can transfer the employee to some other department at similar job position. This technique is helpful when the employee is no more interested in working with his current coworkers or supervisors (Goldsmith, Lyons, & McArthur, 2012). However, job rotation does not improve the current salary and compensation package of that employee -- it is simply the transfer of employees at…