Conflict Identification and Resolution
In the current team I am on where I work, there is conflict between myself and another worker, mostly because he always tries to lead but I was assigned to be the team leader. The usurping of my authority and goals has been ongoing, and efforts to mitigate it have been unsuccessful. The source of this conflict would seem to be the other person, but the true source of the conflict is that he and I are both very similar in the way we approach things, and we are both natural leaders. Although I was chosen by our manager to lead the team, my coworker is used to being a leader and has a difficult time restraining himself from taking over and taking the lead in numerous situations. This current team is not the first place where he has done this, either to me or to other coworkers, and it is not anticipated that it will be the last place where he does this. It would be helpful to resolve the conflict, but when the issues that are occurring are coming from a part of a person's actual personality, it can be very difficult to find a way to resolve those issues.
In a team environment, it can be difficult to address conflict, largely because the group has to find its own way to work together (Baack, 2012). If there is conflict between only a couple members of the team, that can be less damaging than if there is conflict between all team members (Aureli & de Waal, 2000). However, even small conflicts can turn into big conflicts when it comes to people who have to work together on a daily basis (Aureli & de Waal, 2000). If one person is designated to lead, that can increase the conflict because the person who has not been designated to lead may become resentful (Wilmot & Hocker, 2007). This does not happen in every instance, but it can occur and when it does the consequences can be severe and lasting (Wilmot & Hocker, 2007). There are some conflicts that simply cannot be resolved, and the people involved in them must be moved to different teams (Aureli & de Waal, 2000; Wilmot & Hocker, 2007). While that stops the immediate conflict, it does get those people branded as not being "team players," which can be a serious problem for them in their careers (Aureli & de Waal, 2000).
Some steps have already been taken to resolve the conflict where I work, but they have not been successful. These have included team reminder emails to send all plans and work schedules, etc., through me as team leader, and a private talk with my coworker, who insisted I was attempting to make something out of nothing. Despite repeated attempts to politely assert myself as being in charge, these efforts have fallen on deaf ears when it comes to my coworker, who continues to overstep his boundaries and act as though he is the one who is leading the team. This pettiness is becoming upsetting to the rest of the team, but as of yet they have not said anything to him of which I am aware. It is important to handle the issue professionally, as we have worked together for years and he is a good worker with many ideas and talents. He simply does not know how not to lead, and how to allow someone else to take the reins for a new project or team.
One of the most significant problems with conflict resolution is that one person often does not recognize the conflict (Baack, 2012). He or she may honestly not see the problem, or he or she may see the problem but believe it to be someone else's problem (Baack, 2012). In other words, one person sees it as the other person's fault, and...
This often comes about from a lack of proper conflict identification skills, because the people in the middle of the conflict do not see it the way an outsider to the issue would see it (Aureli & de Waal, 2000). It is quite possible that other people on the team who are not a part of the conflict see things completely differently, but they may not know how to help facilitate a resolution (Aureli & de Waal, 2000). Because they have good conflict identification skills does not mean they have good conflict resolution skills, and the best they can often do is encourage the parties to the conflict to recognize it correctly.
There should be more done to resolve the conflict in my workplace before it becomes worse or starts to degrade the quality of the team any further. Additional steps to be taken include moving the coworker to a different team or getting a manager involved. However, I am trying to avoid both of those, for a couple of reasons. First, the idea of moving him falls into the category of "not a team player" that I am trying to avoid having on my record. Even if the other employees on the team back me up and it is a valid move, I still feel as though I need to be able to handle the issue myself because I am the one who was chosen to lead. For all I know, this could be a test to see how I handle being on a team with someone who acts this way. That is also the main reason why I do not want to get a manager involved. It also implies that I cannot think for myself or that I am not capable of handling the issue on my own and need to get superiors involved to take care of things for me. That is not a good place to be in for someone who is a team leader and who wants to hold a management position in the future. These kinds of difficulties are things that a leader or manager would be able to handle without going to others to correct the problem.
Resolving conflicts can sometimes require significant action on the part of one of the parties or another person (Baack, 2012). Managers and other coworkers do sometimes get involved in order to resolve significant conflicts that are not easily corrected. However, the majority of interpersonal conflicts that take place in teams and in other areas of the workplace are those that should be handled by the parties to the conflict (Wilmot & Hocker, 2007). Learning to work things out with others when there are disagreements is a skill that has to be learned, and that is often learned at home. Not everyone learns how to resolve conflicts properly, though, and that can lead to difficulties in the workplace (Aureli & de Waal, 2000). At that point, conflicts can escalate because the parties to them are ill-prepared to handle the conflicts correctly (Aureli & de Waal, 2000). While that is unfortunate, it is also something that can be addressed and taught through an understanding of how to recognize a conflict and how to address it appropriately.
There are several outcomes that could occur as a result of the conflict resolution in my workplace. The first and most hopeful outcome would be that my coworker would realize the way he is attempting to take over, and would stop trying to control things. While I do not look for that to happen, it would be the best possible outcome. It is always easiest to diffuse a conflict when one party realizes he or she is in the wrong and makes an effort to change his or her behavior to benefit the other party and/or the team or group (Baack, 2012). Another possible outcome that could occur as the result of a…
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